One Year Later...
Terri’s Fight Fights On
Terri Schiavo Was Killed By Florida Court Order, March 31, 2005. Today, Her Family Works To Counter What They Call “The Culture Of Death.”
By Perry Hicks- Special to GulfCoastNews.com
It has been nearly a year since Florida Judge George Greer ordered Terri Schindler Schiavo to die by starvation and dehydration. The sentence came at the demand of her husband, Michael Schiavo, who claimed Terri would not want to live in a “persistent vegetative state.”
“The media never did report that Terri had at one time come out of her coma,” Terri’s father, Bob Schindler, recently told GCN by phone. His claim is supported by affidavits from a number of nurses and aides who had been Terri’s primary caregivers.
Those affidavits tell of how Terri had spoken numerous words, loved baths, reacted differently to different kinds of music and delighted at the taste of Jell-O. Video of her following motion in the room and reacting to her parents was dismissed by critics as being merely “reflexive.”
Judge Greer’s orders went well beyond removing her feeding tube from the disabled woman. Greer actually decreed Terri be orally denied food and water- ordered her to not even be spoon fed even if she would take it. To enforce that order, police guarded Terri night and day.
“They did that because of the first starvation episode she went through in 2003; Terri went seven days supposedly without food and water but she didn’t lose any weight. She did not appear dehydrated. She didn’t have any appearance of being starved at all,” Robert said matter-of-factly.
Could it have been that the nursing staff at that time was feeding her? Feeding her normally?
“Seven days without use of her tube and she looked fine,” Bob repeated.
His remark about how well she fared reminded me of the public comment Michael Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, had made about Terri as she lay dying in 2005: “In all the years I've seen Mrs. Schiavo, I've never seen such a look of peace and beauty upon her.”
At that point, Terri’s cheeks would have been sunken, her eyes shrunken back into their sockets, her skin and lips dry and cracking, and her tongue would have been thick and brown like a dry piece of meat.
The suffering she had to go through would have been anything but peaceful. As the stomach lining dried, she would have first vomited before heaving. There were reports that the supposedly vegetative Terri was administered pain killers and witnesses spoke to how she struggled.
Watching that would have had to be very difficult on a nursing staff accustomed to caring for patients instead of trying to kill them.
“They brought in a different staff, kind of like the SS,” Bob again said matter-of-factly. “No one else was allowed near her. They were adamant she was going to die.”
While Bob’s critics could roll their eyes at what they would say is a much overused comparison, there are in fact parallels. After all, as he pointed out to me, what kind of person could watch entire families suffer and die as they did in Nazi death camps?
Alarmingly, the media spectacle of Terri’s court-ordered death and the following days of televised drama was not an isolated case. It happens, according to Bob Schindler, one or two times a week.
“While we were going through all of that we were being contacted by other people in similar situations asking us for help…. we couldn’t even help ourselves,” Bob said, his voice conveying a sense of sadness.
What elevated Terri’s story into a fire-storm of public debate was the public relations organization on both sides of the controversy. On Michael Schiavo’s side was the euthanasia movement and attorney George Felos. On the Schindler’s side there was, at least in the very beginning, little more than themselves.
“When four representatives from NOW (National Organization of Women) sat down and heard Terri’s story they were all in tears,” Bob said told GCN. However, when someone made a parallel between Terri’s right to life and that of an unborn child, Bob told GCN, “NOW backed away.”
Likewise, Bob Schindler asserts, the association of retired persons, “AARP, was on Michael Schiavo’s side.”
In the days following Terri’s passing it became abundantly clear that what was needed was an organization to champion the most vulnerable of citizens and fight “this culture of death” as he and others see it.
Hence, the Schindlers changed the website Terri’s Fight. Org from raising support to save their daughter’s life to a full blown organization dedicated to saving the lives of others in similar situations.
According to Bob, “People are being coerced into having their life support removed.”
Why? The parallels can again be drawn with pre-war Nazi Germany. Beginning in 1939, about 200,000 handicapped, mentally ill, and others deemed suitable for the T-4 Euthanasie Programme were killed.
The motivation then and now is all about economics. It simply takes a lot of money and effort to sustain the life of those disabled by birth, through accident, or other medical emergency; money that could be spent in other ways.
Hence, those needing the most protection and care are euphemistically offered an “exit protocol,” by having withheld from them food and water. An entire industry is cropping up around it.
Dr. Ronald Cranford might be considered part of that industry. As Terri lay dying, Cranford asserted on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, “She is not starving to death, she is dehydrating to death... “….I have done this 25 to 50 times….. I've done it 25 to 50 times in similar situations. And they die within 10 to 14 days.”
What the Schindlers seek to do is establish a national network that can provide alternative expert opinion to the medical ethicists and others recommending “life support” be pulled from disabled patients. Bob cites a recent case of a comatose person recommended for an “exit protocol” suddenly waking up.
“We are getting one to two cases per week,” Bob said, “Hospital bio-ethics committees are making decisions that these people are not worth the money. It all drops back to dollars and cents. These people have no value to society, insurance companies, or social security. Bioethics devalues a person’s life.”
As one would suspect, Terri’s Fight dot org does not make some people very happy.
“The secular press doesn’t like us. They investigate us and report us to various agencies. We feel like we have to be constantly looking over our shoulders. Reporters are always looking to see what we are being paid- if anything,” Bob said, his voice conveying the pressure the Schindlers feel from all the scrutiny.
However, in the end, Bob says, “You have to follow your convictions- they are not going to stop us.”
For additional information or to lend support for Terri’s Fight visit the following sites:
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About the Author.....
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. Perry has also hosted his own radio talk show on the auto industry with a mix of politics. Perry is a former college professor and is a senior writer for GCN on stories of national importance with local interests. His articles can be found in the GCN Archive.