there seem to be two different defenses going on, which have slightly different connotations. One is that the husband should have the right to make this choice, and one is that her condition is such that she personally wouldn't want to be kept alive
Michael Schiavo did not make the decision to discontinue life-prolonging measures for Terri.
As Terri's husband, Michael has been her guardian and her surrogate decision-maker. By 1998, though -- eight years after the trauma that produced Terri's situation -- Michael and Terri's parents disagreed over the proper course for her.
Rather than make the decision himself, Michael followed a procedure permitted by Florida courts by which a surrogate such as Michael can petition a court, asking the court to act as the ward's surrogate and determine what the ward would decide to do. Michael did this, and based on statements Terri made to him and others, he took the position that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures. The Schindlers took the position that Terri would continue life-prolonging measures. Under this procedure, the trial court becomes the surrogate decision-maker, and that is what happened in this case.
The trial court in this case held a trial on the dispute. Both sides were given opportunities to present their views and the evidence supporting those views. Afterwards, the trial court determined that, even applying the "clear and convincing evidence" standard -- the highest burden of proof used in civil cases -- the evidence showed that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures.
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