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The parents and siblings of Terri Schiavo have mounted a television campaign
to appeal to a national audience and counter similar efforts by her husband.
WorldNetDaily has reported the Schindlers have been locked in a 10-year
battle to keep Michael Schiavo from removing the brain-damaged woman’s
life-sustaining feeding tube and to get her rehabilitative therapy she has been
denied for a decade. Michael Schiavo insists Terri does not want to be kept
alive “through artificial means” and succeeded in getting a Florida court to
order the tube removed last month.
The 39-year-old survived six days without hydration and fluids before Florida lawmakers and Gov.
Jeb Bush intervened and ordered the tube reinserted. Schiavo has
appealed the intervention on the grounds that it unconstitutionally violates the
separation-of-powers principle of government, as well as Terri’s right to
In an effort toward
damage control amid the furor over the removal of Terri’s feeding tube,
Live” Oct. 28.
On the program, he insisted he loved his wife deeply but that death by
starvation and dehydration would allow the woman he says is in a persistent
vegetative state to die with dignity.
Michael Schiavo on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” (Photo:
St. Petersburg Times)
Schiavo also pulled no punches in expressing his animosity toward the
Schindlers for consistently blocking his efforts and raising suspicions about
The Schindlers are due to be given a future “Larry King Live” program in
order to rebut Schiavo’s claims. In the meantime, representatives of the family
– mother Mary, brother Bobby and sister, Suzanne Carr – shared their story
with fans of daytime talk queen Oprah Winfrey. Appearing live on “The Oprah Winfrey show” via satellite, the Schindlers described
Terri as alert and responsive and not in a persistent, vegetative state, or PVS.
“She cries, she laughs and she follows me around the room. She laughs
at her dad’s jokes. Each day is different,” Mary Schindler said.
“Terri is very purposeful in her reactions,” added Carr. “When you go in
and say ‘hi’ to Terri, Terri will in a sense do her best to say ‘hi’ to you. Or
there’s a lot of times where if you tell Terri you’re going to leave, she’ll cry. She
doesn’t want you to leave. So her reactions are very purposeful.”
Mary Schindler, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne
Schindler Carr join Oprah via satellite, Nov. 14, 2003. (Photo: The Oprah
Bobby Schindler told Oprah “there’s a real misconception” about Terri’s medical condition.
“It’s not just the family saying that Terri can be helped. We have over a
dozen doctors – half of them being neurologists – that all have either testified
or examined Terri and all believe that she could significantly improve if she
was just given the chance,” Bobby Schindler said. “For whatever reason,
Michael [Schiavo] lost hope for Terri back in 1992. And from that point on she
has been completely neglected, has gotten no rehabilitation, no therapy.”
According to medical records provided to the family’s attorney, Terri has
not received rehabilitative therapy since 1992, when Schiavo was awarded
$1.2 million in medical-malpractice lawsuits against Terri’s physicians
– most of which was earmarked to pay for Terri’s medical treatment.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily last year, Schiavo insisted he had
provided therapy in recent years but would not give details or associated
dates. When asked about this by Larry King, Schiavo similarly asserted Terri
had received therapy in the last 10 years and then described the therapy she
received in 1991 at a facility in St. Petersburg, Fla., and in Los Angeles.
Despite the neglect indicated in the records, Circuit Court Judge George
Greer ruled Terri is PVS, based on the testimony of three neurologists who
testified in an evidentiary hearing in November 2002. The neurologists, one
appointed by Greer and two solicited by Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos,
testified Terri’s apparent responses to her family members are random
reflexes consistent with people in persistent vegetative states.
Greer is the same judge who ruled in 2000 that testimony by Schiavo, his brother and sister-in-law that she had casually told them a year before her injury she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means, was “clear and convincing evidence” of her wishes. Terri has no written mandate on the matter.
An appeals court upheld both of Greer’s rulings.
The Schindlers believe Terri’s behavior, and her having survived two removals of her feeding tube and several life-threatening illnesses over the past 13 years during which she has been incapacitated, indicate a strong will to live. They question why Terri never made the same comments alleged by the Schiavos to them.
“Terri never said anything about these alleged wishes to any of her family workers, her co-workers, her closest friends. The only persons she evidently said these wishes to were Michael, his brother and sister-in-law,” said Bobby Schindler.
“Could it be possible that they are husband and wife and there are many things that husbands and wives share with each other that they don’t tell to brothers and sisters?” Oprah challenged. “Could it be something she said in passing, ‘If that ever happens to me, please pull the plug.'”
“We don’t believe Terri would have ever said that,” answered Carr. “We knew Terri obviously a lot longer than Michael. It was very out of character for her to even think in that fashion. She was just in her mid-twenties. She was very light-hearted. She just never spoke about those type of things and we totally believe it was out of character for Terri even to mention anything like that. So to answer your question, we don’t believe that she could have even said anything like that in passing.”
Court filings and other information on the case are posted on the