Attorney Patricia Anderson’s greatest fear was realized yesterday when she learned that Michael Schiavo had removed his wife Terri Schindler-Schiavo from Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla., where she was taken to have her feeding tube reinstalled, and returned clandestinely to the Woodside Facility of the Hospice of the Florida Sun Coast in Pinellas Park where she has been a patient for over three years.
Just hours earlier, Anderson – who has represented Robert and Mary Schindler in their decade-long legal battle with their son-in-law – told WorldNetDaily she was intensely concerned that Schiavo would remove Terri from the hospital before her condition was medically stabilized and she was rehydrated, in accordance with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s executive order.
This would be completely at odds with the purpose of Tuesday’s special legislation by the Florida legislature that empowered Gov. Jeb Bush to order Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted, and halted the court-ordered death of the 39-year-old brain-disabled woman, whose husband had long sought to end her life.
But Schiavo had done that several times in the past, most recently in August when Terri was shuttled back and forth on three separate occasions during bouts with pneumonia and other medical problems. Each time she was kept at Morton Plant only a few days and returned to the hospice in a much-weakened state.
“I don’t have any doubt that she should be in intensive care at the hospital,” said Anderson. “But the fact is, Michael’s her guardian and if he withdraws his consent for them to treat her there’s nothing they can do. Their hands are tied. This tells you a lot about him.”
Anderson said she felt that the hospital would have preferred to keep her before releasing her prematurely, but Schiavo is the one who must consent to treatment.
“If he revokes the consent and he is her legal guardian, their hands are tied,” she explained. “They cannot continue to treat her without his consent. That is why the appointment of a guardian ad litem is so very crucial,” she added.
Report from the frontlines
Anderson said she saw Terri was being tube-fed when she was there, but there is no IV line supplying hydration, though she may have had sufficient fluid during the 24 hours she was at Morton Plant.
Both parents and brother Bobby were with her, and she was responsive, though sleepy.
“That is why we need a guardian ad litem,” she added. “That is what Terri’s Bill is about. We’ve got to have a guardian ad litem to put a stop to that kind of hijinks, because [Michael's] primary objective is to kill her.”
Schiavo very nearly succeeded in his five-year quest to end his wife’s life by court-approved starvation. With only a few hours remaining before she slipped beyond the point where she could be saved, Florida lawmakers Tuesday delivered to the governor legislation empowering him to order Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted, and Bush signed the life-saving law as well as an implementing executive order.
“Terri’s Bill” specifically directs the chief judge, David Demers of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court, to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent Terri “upon issuance of a stay,” but he has not yet done so – a matter that Anderson views as a matter of urgency.
“Terri will be out of danger only when Michael is no longer her guardian and no longer has access to her,” she said bluntly.
Bay 9 News TV reports Demers has directed the attorneys of both Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers to reach agreement on who should serve as guardian ad litem within five days. The guardian would be Terri’s advocate in legal proceedings, but, the report said, Michael Schiavo would remain the decision-maker.
Demers says he will appoint Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor of health and law at Stetson University, as the guardian ad litem if the parties cannot reach agreement.
Crowds of demonstrators cheered wildly as Terri was transferred by ambulance from Woodside Hospice to Morton Plant Hospital, about 25 miles away, whereupon her feeding tube was reinserted and rehydration begun after her six days ordeal of judge-ordered starvation.
Family locked out
No sooner was his wife admitted to Morton Plant than Schiavo sent an order directing the hospital to bar Terri’s parents and siblings from visiting her.
The Schindlers were not informed of Schiavo’s action, and only learned of it late that evening from Terri’s brother who had driven to the hospital to visit his sister and was escorted from the premises by an armed security guard.
Bobby Schindler, 38, told WorldNetDaily he was told by the administrator on duty that Schiavo had left instructions that “no family members, not anybody is to visit Terri,” and that they were to be given no information about her medical condition. Schindler was too exhausted by worry over the fate of his sister and the events of the past seven days to express anger. But he said he’s not surprised by this recent action by Schiavo.
“Michael’s been doing this kind of thing for almost as long as he’s been guardian of my sister,” he exclaimed. “It’s going on for over a decade and it continues. Even after the governor stepped in and did what he did today, [Schiavo] continues to use his guardianship power as a weapon against our family and Terri.”
It’s one of many times her husband has ordered Terri isolated from family and those close to her. In mid-August he barred a Roman Catholic priest from visiting her at Morton Plant Hospital where she was taken due to a sudden medical crisis.
Schiavo said his action was prompted by a late-evening visit by Terri’s spiritual adviser, Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, a former Army chaplain, who had been asked by her father to drop by the hospital to see how she was faring.
Even though the monsignor was on a list of court-approved visitors and regularly visited her at the hospice with her parents, Schiavo was outraged when he heard about it, regarding it as a willful violation of a policy he had established prohibiting callers unless accompanied either by himself or a family member.
Schiavo’s attorney Deborah Bushnell told WorldNetDaily that her client was concerned about Malanowski’s “integrity” and felt the 81-year-old priest was not “the kind of person that he wanted visiting Terri or that he felt comfortable visiting Terri.” Eventually he relented slightly, and the monsignor was allowed to resume his visits subject to week-to-week approval by Schiavo.
Last Wednesday, the day Terri’s feeding tube was removed, Schiavo’s attorneys ordered family members barred from being alone with Terri at the hospice following Robert Schindler’s release to the media of a videotape distributed in evidence that the woman is not in a “persistent vegetative state” as Schiavo’s advocates claim.
Schindler admitted the tape was made surreptitiously, in violation of a court order by probate Judge George Greer, of the Pinellas-County Circuit Court. The video, which shows Terri alert and laughing and trying to speak, further indicates attempts at rehabilatative therapy, also banned by the courts.
Following the video’s release, her family was told they were barred from visiting the dying woman “unless [Schiavo] or his representative is present.”
In at least one instance, the “representative” that accompanied Robert and Mary Schindler to the bedside of their daughter was none other than the mother of Schiavo’s mistress, Jodi Centonze, with whom he has been living for a number of years. He and Centonze have a 1-year-old daughter and are expecting a second child.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Schindlers had been fighting their son-in-law for 10 years over the lack of care and therapy Schiavo as her guardian provided for their daughter, who suffered massive brain damage when she collapsed at her home 13 years ago under mysterious circumstances at the age of 26.
The ongoing dispute escalated five years ago when Schiavo petitioned the court for permission to end his wife’s life by removing her feeding tube, insisting she is in a “persistent vegetative state” and had told him years before she would not want to be maintained “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.
The Schindlers fought tenaciously to keep their daughter and the case alive in the courts, but were basically blocked at every turn, in particular by Judge George Greer, who has had charge of the case almost from the beginning. When the seven-member Florida Supreme Court in August turned down a petition to review the case, the way was clear for Schiavo to starve his wife to death.
On Sept. 17, Greer scheduled Oct. 15 as the day Terri’s feeding tube would be removed. At the same time, in a separate ruling, he denied rehabilitation and speech therapy for the disabled woman.
Information on Terri’s fight for life is posted on the family’s website.