PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida, January 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The circuit court judge who famously rebuffed the pleas of Terri Schiavo’s family to save her life has retired.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer is laying aside the judge’s robe after an 18-year career, marked by one case that provoked horror from pro-life advocates nationwide and led to a slew of awards, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Greer in 2000 ruled in favor Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo, who argued that he should be allowed to remove his wife’s feeding tube because she would not have wanted to be kept alive on “life support.” Terri, who had suffered brain damage from an accident ten years before, was conscious, able to breathe on her own, and required nothing but a feeding tube to receive food and hydration.
In subsequent cases over Terri’s life, Greer was consistent with his original decision. In 2001, after viewing hours of video that showed Terri with her mother and neurologist, the judge wrote that Terri “clearly does not consistently respond to her mother” and judged her to be in a persistent vegitative state.
That decision was met with such opposition that, when Terri’s feeding tube was removed in 2003, Florida lawmakers were spurred to introduce “Terri’s law,” which allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to reverse the ruling and have Terri’s feeding tube replaced. However, that law was overturned, and Terri died in March 2005 after Greer ordered her feeding tube removed and forbade a final plea by the Department of Children & Families to take care of her.
Greer, who did not seek re-election, allowed his term to end on Dec 31. He was two years away from mandatory retirement at age 70.
The Times noted that Hillsborough County judges gave Greer an “award of awards” for “having received more awards than all of his colleagues put together, and all for having handled one measly case.”
Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother and founder of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, had a different perspective on Greer’s legacy.
While many will honor Greer, said Schindler, “for our family, and the millions of people that supported Terri worldwide, Judge Greer’s decision to deliberately starve and dehydrate her to death - based largely on hearsay testimony - is anything but honorable. Terri was denied the most basic of rights - rights that our laws are intended to protect; life and liberty.”
Alex Schadenburg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, called it “a complete contradiction” that Greer was held up as a martyr of jurisprudence for refusing to go back on the decision that facilitated Terri’s death.
“This was a vulnerable person in need of protection, and the courts refused to protect her,” Schadenburg told LifeSiteNews.com. “He wasn’t made a villain by [the pro-life movement] , he made a decision that he stuck by that caused her death.”