When Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise, mailed digital video players to voters in New Hampshire, people questioned whether they were wasting money. Maybe instead they should have been asking if the PAC is actively sabotaging Bush’s campaign after a new ad that potentially sparks more controversy than clarity.

A new Right to Rise ad airing in South Carolina appears at first glance to be pretty straight forward for conservatives in the Palmetto State. The ad starts by touting Bush’s “A+” rating from the NRA. It also mentions Bush’s “plan to destroy ISIS,” and his promises to strengthen the border and “put Washington’s broken fiscal house back in order.”

But an image tucked right in the middle of the ad potentially does more harm than good for Bush’s presidential prospects.

As the narrator reads, “He’s a man of deep faith who fought time and again for the right to life,” Right to Rise has included a photo of Terri Schiavo, the figure at the center of one of the biggest controversies of Bush’s time as Governor of Florida.

The Terri Schiavo Case

To briefly summarize a long and complicated case, Schiavo was a young woman from Florida who suffered heart failure on February 25, 1990 which caused severe brain damage and she entered a persistent vegetative state. A legal struggle ensued between Schiavo’s husband Michael, who wanted to remove her feeding tube because he said she wouldn’t have wanted to live in a vegetative state, and her parents who wanted to keep her alive.

After a 2000 court ruling determined that Michael was his wife’s legal guardian, appeals persisted until October 15, 2003 when the court ordered the feeding tube to be removed. It was at this point Governor Bush intervened, passing “Terri’s Law” which authorized the governor the power to issue a one-time stay of a court order in a case similar to Schiavo’s.

The feeding tube was reinserted and another round of legal battles ensued. After the Florida Supreme Court ruled “Terri’s Law” to be unconstitutional and the United States Supreme Court declined to review the case, the feeding tube was removed again. This prompted a battle in the US Congress, with President Bush, Jeb’s brother, flying home from vacation in Texas to sign legislation that ultimately failed to force relitigation of the case in federal court.

Schiavo passed away on March 31, 2005.

“Shame on Jeb Bush”

Terri Schiavo remains a controversial case regarding an individual’s right to die.

"It is simply disgusting that Jeb Bush and his super Pac would exploit my wife’s tragedy for his crude political gain. Shame on Jeb Bush," wrote Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, in a statement published by the Tampa Bay Tribune. In addition to the photo of Schiavo, the ad appears to include a scene from the vigil outside her hospice, with a supporter holding a Jeb! campaign sign.

Schiavo continued, "Using his disgraceful intervention in our family’s private trauma to advance his political career shows that he has learned nothing. …What the campaign video shows is that if he ever got his hands on the power of government again, he would do the same thing again, maybe next time to your family."

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