Guest Opinion Filed 3/26/05
Death By Government
The Mainstream Press Would Have You Believe Terri Schiavo’s Case Had Been Fully Investigated And Adjudicated. However, The Testimony Of Numerous Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, And Guardian Ad Litem Tell Otherwise.
By Perry Hicks - Special to GCN - Updated 3/31/05 (Terri Dies)
Killing Terri Schiavo by definition cannot be considered murder as starving and dehydrating her to death was completely legal - having been literally ordered by Florida 6th Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer. However, killing an innocent and, in my view, possibly abused woman is nothing short of monstrous and bodes ill for the well-being of America’s infirm.
It is also indicative of the forces arrayed before each other on America’s political battlefield. The Terri Schiavo case has made it much clearer how demographics are really drawn between those who have faith, particularly Judeo-Christian, and those who would drive out every vestige of religion from the public discourse.
As GCN publisher and journalist Keith Burton explains, “This latest action is part of a trend. As government moves away from religion as the foundation for our laws, it has no choice but to redefine laws to a new standard; one which seems to be based on economics and broadly accepted states of mind and behavior.
“Basically, life is being redefined in the U.S. not as something beneficial to the individual, but whether an individual is beneficial to others. If you are not beneficial to others, ie. talking and working, you have no right to life. Terri Schiavo had two strikes against her. In the traditional sense, she cannot communicate effectively, nor can she contribute to society. The Schiavo case marks a far reaching philosophical change that will have profound effect on all of us.
“If the government cannot ascertain that you have an acceptable state of mind, you have no right to life. The decisions that have been reached on Terri Schiavo have ignored the one testimony that she does yet demonstrate…life. And that should have been enough to prevent Death by Government.
“To this day, science cannot define how, or why, life exists in the living- only that it does. Nor can any of us say what it is that makes us alive, however manifestly evident. Just because someone cannot speak or follow a command, or do any work, or recognize a person or object, the mystery of what makes a person alive remains and government should do all it can to protect that life,” said Burton
If Judge Greer or husband Michael Schiavo think that Terri’s death will make all of the media attention go away they had better think again. Justice for Terri has become a cause celeb. Terri’s case has been extensively reported on by nearly every major print publication and explored extensively by the nation’s premier talk radio personalities; such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Even the king of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, weighed in devoting not just a few segments, but entire days to Terri’s plight.
With that kind of pubic interest one may rest assured that this case will be turned over and over and will be investigated for years, if not decades, to come. At some point the truth how Terri collapsed, how she was treated by her husband, and how she died will come out. Michael Schiavo had best forget about ever having again a moment of peace. For him, there will simply be no moving on.
Murder Investigation Aborted
The police report for Terri’s mysterious February 25th 1990 collapse indicate that a homicide investigation was initiated but since there was no apparent trauma and their apartment had no sign of violence, police queries into the matter were dropped. Terri’s heart appeared to have simply stopped beating long enough to have caused her serious brain injury. The prevailing theory put very simply is that Terri’s bulimia may have caused a precipitous drop in her potassium levels which stopped her heart from beating. The minutes her brain went without oxygen resulted in the neural damage she suffers to this day.
This is where the facts of the case become quite murky but two points remain crystal clear: Florida law considers feeding tubes to be artificial life support and Michael Schiavo, however belatedly, recalled that his wife did not want to exist in a vegetative state like the earlier case of Karen Ann Quinlan.
Who Do You Want To Believe?
Broadly speaking, facts are established in an initial trial and so are very difficult if not impossible to overturn thereafter. Hence, it is supremely important to get it right the first time. In the Schiavo case, the “facts” were established without benefit of testimony available in later years and so it became quite easy during later motions for Judge Greer to exclude anything that would not lead directly to Terri’s death. Contradicting testimony by doctors, nurses, and therapists were deemed to be sources that were simply “not credible.” At that point, appeals courts are then limited to rendering judgments based on legal merit alone.
Case Notes & Timeline
A synopsis of the case as reported by WorldNetDaily runs the equivalent of 26 pages and over 8000 words; far too expansive to detail here. However, the more salient points of the WND article are important to note:
Everything Hinges On The Tube
Video released by the Schindlers showing Terri interacting with her family members has been disputed by Michael Schiavo’s expert witnesses as evidence that Terri has retained any cognition what so ever. To them, Terri is unable to think or feel and was kept “artificially” alive by the feeding tube [Note: The tube has been reported by neurologist Dr. William Hammesfhar to be the source of Terri’s nourishment only by order of Judge Greer. Greer has rejected motions from the Schindlers to give Terri new swallowing tests. Documents state that she has not had one since 1993.]
Consider the madness in that a 10 year old has recently been arrested for attempting to give Terri a cup of water.
Electronic copies of affidavits from medical doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, a speech therapist, and the testimony of 2 court appointed guardians ad litem tell a far different tale than those recognized by the court.
For example, one time caregiver and certified nursing assistant, Heidi Law, stated in her affidavit that she spoon fed Terri small amounts of Jell-O which Terri seemed to enjoy immensely. Law also states that she would put cloths soaked in juice to Terri’s mouth as to give her “something nice to taste,” which according to Law, “made her (Terri) happy.”
Indeed, Sara Green-Mele, a speech therapist, stated in her affidavit that Terri “has sufficient swallowing ability to handle her own secretions…” and went on to say that “it has been my experience that patients similar to Terri have been able to handle their own food intake…”
Conflict Of Interest?
Another report by WorldNetDaily attempts to answer the question as to why would Greer refuse to acknowledge his error on the matter of statements Terri made in regard to Karen Ann Quinlan, and why he will not re-examine the case given such new voluminous testimony regarding Terri’s cognition and ability to take food in orally?
According to WND, numerous abuse investigations by Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) have been quashed. The reason, WND suggests, is political corruption.
Claims of Abuse
The complaints the Schindlers have about Terri’s lack of care that they contend are abuse as indicated in electronic copies of affidavits are:
Q: What was the cause of the injury in the other patient?
A: That person had an anoxic encephalous due to attempted strangulation.
Michael Schiavo then went on to refer to House Majority Leader Tom Delay a “little slithering snake pandering for votes.”
Accepting momentarily the argument that Terri Schiavo is essentially brain-dead, unable to think or feel much less interact with her environment, one must ask, why be in such a rush to see her die? Why perpetrate on Terri’s parents, Mary and Robert Schindler, the inhuman cruelty of having to watch their daughter starve to death? Recall Dr.Cranford’s “When A Feeding Tube Borders On Barbaric.”
This question is perplexing in that the Schindlers have begged Michael Schiavo to let them assume the financial and practical responsibility of caring for Terri for the rest of her natural life. And while some have suggested a monetary motive for killing her, this notion is partly negated by reports suggesting that the malpractice settlement money has about run out.
Of course, if we are going to indulge in speculation, even if true, this does not exclude the possibility that Terri’s life may have been well insured, or that Michael could one day enjoy some celebrity status (read $) for defending his wife’s right to die.
In neither case can we explain the zeal to which proponents have sided with Michael and the court system.
Rest assured the right-to-die crowd will be ecstatic now that Terri is finally dead. Many in this group are virulent atheists that fume at the loss of last year’s national election, that Bush is a born-again Christian, and that Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ succeeded against such critical derision. In Terri’s death, their side can finally exalt in having finally won a battle.
And don’t tell me this isn’t true. I have heard it directly from members of this community who chide Delay and Bush and other “Jeezus luvers.” Just let the poor woman stop suffering through this miserable life, they have demanded rhetorically.
Note the use of “this” rather than “her” miserable life. The one thread that I have noted through all of their rantings is how hopeless their own lives are. As they get older they have no vision for any kind of future- only the gradual decline of age and their own inevitable, lonely and darkly absolute end. It is as if Terri’s continuance on earth would be a painful and constant reminder of how purposeless and even loveless their lives have been.
Even with the great amount of material available today, we haven’t heard all there is to hear about the tragedy of Terri Schindler Schiavo.
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Perry Hicks is a former Mississippi Coast resident and was a correspondent for the old Gulfport Star Journal. He has appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” Perry has also hosted his own radio talk show on the auto industry with a mix of politics. Perry is a frequent contributor to GCN. His articles can be found in the GCN Archive.
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