Terri Schiavo: 12 years ago, not to be forgotten
March 31, 2017
Today marks the 12th anniversary of a death that captured the attention of Americans particularly those who value life. Terri Schiavo’s death was cruel, divisive and controversial. It brought to the forefront the importance of having a living will. Above all, it put to question the morality of the country and to what extent the Supreme Court would go in matters of life and death. Some labeled the 2005 legal battle as the moment when the country went down a very dangerous and steep cliff.
Terri Schiavo died 12 years ago today, not long after her feeding tube was removed by order of a Florida judge acting at the request of Schiavo’s husband that his wife be allowed to die. She was 41 and had been in a vegetative state after suffering a cardiac arrest in 1990. The highly publicized legal case surrounding her husband’s plea not to keep her artificially alive roused debates across the world and at the U.S. Supreme Court. Michael Schiavo, her husband, began requesting in 1995 that she legally be allowed to die. Terri’s family bitterly disagreed. They still believe to this day that she would have wanted to live.
What began a private dispute moved from Florida circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to Congress, to the U.S. Supreme Court. President George Bush kept trying to override the Florida courts which had, time after time, backed Michael Schiavo’s decision. During his tenure as Florida governor, Jeb Bush decided to fight his own state courts in trying to override their decision to let her die. The Vatican wound up challenging U.S. law which, as the Schiavo case affirmed, allows the stopping of artificial food and water under certain circumstances. The Vatican said food and water could not be stopped, thereby, leaving many Catholic health care institutions and Catholics in this country — and others — uncertain as to how to manage requests to let a patient die by removing a feeding tube.
Life News released an article with the writings from her brother Bobby Schindler in which he calls the death by starvation and dehydration of his sister much more than inhumane. Below is what Schindler wrote:
If I may, I would like to use this somber occasion to recall for readers who may not know what happened in 2005 and in the process to update comments I’ve made about Terri, her brave parents, and her siblings. As you will see whenever I looked at Terri, I could never, ever get another death by starvation out of my heart and mind.
When your life revolves around trying to stem the anti-life tide that has swept away over 58 million unborn lives, you might think that the power of individuals cases—instances where the fate of one human life hangs in the balance—would be diminished.
You would be wrong. Let me set the context for how I came to see Terri’s plight.
I had been at National Right to Life only few months when the case of an Indiana baby—“Baby Doe”—became a topic of intense national debate. As the letter to the Movement that we reprint from President Reagan explained, when this little boy was born in 1982, he needed only routine surgery to unblock his esophagus which would allow him to eat. Except Baby Doe had Down syndrome.
“[A] doctor testified, and a judge concurred, that even with the physical problem corrected, Baby Doe would have a ‘non-existent’ possibility for a ‘minimally adequate life,’” President Reagan wrote back in 1984. “The judge let Baby Doe starve and die, and the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned his decision.”
As I wrote at the time,
“Up until the time that tiny newborn baby died of starvation I took my pro-life commitment very seriously but impersonally. Baby Doe’s unnecessary death forever changed that for me, and I’m sure for many others as well.”
I did not learn of Baby Doe’s lethal plight until near the very end of his very brief life. But it was the exact opposite with Terri Schindler Schiavo’s ghastly ordeal.
When Terri died on March 31, 2005, having been denied nourishment for 13 agonizing day, the 41-year-old’s starvation death brought to an end—in one sense, at least—a tumultuous, eleven-year battle between the Schindler family and Terri’s estranged husband.
The Schindler family waged their courageous fight in multiple courts, in the Florida legislature, in the halls of Congress, until January 24, 2005, when the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Florida’s then Governor Jeb Bush to reinstate “Terri’s Law.” The law had been passed by the Florida legislature in an emergency session in October of 2003, signed into law by Gov. Bush, and protected Terri Schindler-Schiavo from a hideously painful death by starvation and dehydration.
It is enough to say that, as the saying goes, if truth is “the first casualty in war,” then long before the campaign to starve and dehydrate Terri to death succeeded, all the important details had been thoroughly distorted.
Virtually nothing—her true medical condition (Terri was falsely described as being a “persistent vegetative state” and/or “brain dead”), what she alleged would have “wanted” (to die this horrible death), her condition after 11 days (described by her estranged husband’s attorney as “peaceful,” “beautiful,” and/or “free of pain”)—was within hailing distance of the truth.
Terri’s memory lives on in the work of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network which Bobby describes as “an effort to help raise awareness, educate the public and most importantly, help families whose loved ones are in need of protection from this anti-life culture and a growing hostile health care system.”
Maybe the best way to end these remarks is to quote from pro-life President George W. Bush who worked hard on behalf of the Schindler family:
“The essence of civilization,” he said, “is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak.”
LifeNews.com original article / TRUNEWS summary.
– See more at: http://www.trunews.com/article/terri-schiavo-12-years-ago-not-to-be-forgotten#sthash.NOXmIPeC.dpuf
Leave a Reply