As Terri Schindler-Schiavo faces forced removal today of the feeding tube that sustains her life, lawyers for her husband are ordering her parents to hand over a videotape distributed yesterday as evidence she is not in a “persistent vegetative state.”
Terri’s father, Robert Schindler, admitted the tape was made surreptitiously Aug. 11, 2001, in violation of a court order by Pinellas-Pasco County, Fla., Circuit Judge George Greer.
Bob Schindler at press conference yesterday (photo: Gary McCullough, Christian Communication Network)
The video, which shows Terri laughing and trying to speak, also indicates attempts at rehabilitative therapy, also banned by the court.
But Schindler says he is willing to risk jail because of his conviction that anyone who watches the tape will realize his daughter is not in the comatose condition her husband Michael Schiavo and his attorneys portray.
“I went in with the camera because I expected Terri to be dying very shortly, and I wanted to bring the truth out,” Schindler told reporters yesterday. “What happens, happens.”
Michael Schiavo’s attorney Deborah Bushnell immediately responded to the announcement of the videotape’s release, warning that if it is distributed, the Schindler family “will not be allowed to visit Terri unless [Schiavo] or his representative is present.”
Bushnell, in a fax to the Schindler’s attorney, Patricia Anderson, also warned Schiavo “may seek other remedies from the court, as appropriate.”
Gary McCullough, a media consultant who helped distribute the tape, said copies were given to about 10 media outlets. The Schindlers hope Gov. Jeb Bush will take notice and intervene on Terri’s behalf.
Yesterday, Bush’s spokesman said the governor, who had sent a letter to Judge Greer and filed a friend-of-the-court brief, can do nothing more to save Terri’s life, insisting the outcome is in the hands of the court.
Schindler distributed the video at a press conference yesterday in which he revealed Terri tried to convey to him she did not want to die, by bolting upright and trying to get out of her chair when told she might be killed.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Robert and Mary Schindler have been locked in a decade-long legal struggle with their son-in-law over the care and custody of their daughter, who suffered massive brain damage when she collapsed at her home 13 years ago under unexplained circumstances at the age of 26.
Five years ago, Schiavo petitioned the court for permission to remove his wife’s feeding tube, claiming she is in a “persistent vegetative state” and had told him years ago she would not want to be kept alive “by tubes” and “artificial” means. Although Terri breathes on her own and maintains her own blood pressure, she requires a simple tube into her abdomen to her stomach for nourishment and hydration.
Judge Greer has ordered the tube removed at 2 p.m. today. Doctors believe if Terry is not fed by other means, she we die in about two weeks.
Terri responding to her mother in older video available on terrisfight.org
Another videotape of Terri was introduced at the initial trial in January 2000. It was shown on television news, and three doctors who saw it contacted Robert Schindler saying that they did not believe his daughter was in a persistent vegetative state, but that they wanted to examine her to be sure.
After examining Terri, all three physicians said they believed she had the ability to swallow because she was not drooling. Affidavits were sent to Greer requesting him to allow a swallowing test, which he summarily denied.
At the time, Michael Schiavo was furious about the video and doctor visit. In response to his demands, Greer issued an order banning further videotaping and any still photography, and a list of “approved” visitors was drawn up.
Protester at Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla. (photo: Gary McCullough, Christian Communication Network)
Meanwhile, a round-the-clock prayer vigil and protest that began Monday continues outside the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., where Terri resides.
Renowned author, artist and disability advocate Joni Eareckson Tada has joined Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry in an effort to draw attention to Terri’s plight.
Legal documents and information on Terri’s case are posted on the family’s website.