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Terri's dad: 'She's literally been a prisoner'
Posted By Diana Lynne On 11/18/2003 @ 12:00 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Terri Schiavo is a “cerebral palsy-type victim” who deserves rehabilitation,
and not a person in a persistent vegetative state who would want her feeding tube removed, her parents argued on national television.
Terri’s father, Robert Schindler, stressed on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity
& Colmes” show that doctors told him it was “acquired cerebral palsy.” Schindler blamed Terri’s condition on her husband, Michael Schiavo, who has denied her rehabilitative therapy since late 1992, according to medical records provided to the Schindlers’ attorney.
“Initially, Terri was talking. She was reacting and there were doctors way
back when that said she could recover. And he stopped everything,” Schindler
said. “She has literally been in prison for four years. She’s not permitted to go
outside. She has no stimulation. She has a wheelchair that’s broken that the
husband will not fix.”
As he has earlier suggested to WorldNetDaily, Schindler said he felt
Schiavo had something to do with Terri’s mysterious collapse in 1990 at the
age of 26 that left her severely brain damaged and reliant on a feeding tube for nourishment.
“We have strong suspicions and we have evidence. And I really can’t get
into that as I’d like to at this point,” said Schindler.
When pressed, Schindler repeated: “We have evidence.”
“It’s a matter of getting access to additional evidence that has been under
lock and key all these years,” he added, in reference to Terri’s medical records
from the early days of her injury 13 years ago.
Schindler referenced an investigation under way by
href="http://www.advocacycenter.org/">The Advocacy Center for Persons
with Disabilities. WorldNetDaily reported the non-profit organization charged with defending the rights of disabled persons filed a complaint in federal court last month stating it had compelling information and evidence that Terri is a past and present victim of abuse and neglect, and that as a group they are mandated to investigate such charges.
The center receives the bulk of its funding through five federal programs.
Some of the abuse and neglect claims are outlined in
a motion filed by the Schindlers which seeks to have Michael Schiavo removed as Terri’s guardian.
Mary Schindler, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne
Schindler Carr join Oprah via satellite, Nov. 14, 2003. (Photo: The Oprah
Robert and Mary Schindler’s live interview on the “Hannity & Colmes”
follows a similar appearance by Mary Schindler and Terri’s brother and sister
on “The Oprah Winfrey show” Friday.
WorldNetDaily reported the family has launched an effort to appeal to a national audience to swing the public-relations battle over their 39-year-old daughter.
The television duel started when CNN’s
talk-show legend Larry King devoted his hour-long program to Michael Schiavo’s side of the story on Oct. 28.
border=0 width=199 height=149>
Michael Schiavo on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Oct. 28,
2003. (Photo: St. Petersburg Times)
WorldNetDaily has reported the Schindlers have been locked in a 10-year
battle to keep Michael Schiavo from removing Terri’s life-sustaining feeding
tube. 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.
Terri survived six days without hydration and fluids before
href="/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35197">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
King Live”, Schiavo pulled no punches in expressing his animosity toward the Schindlers for consistently blocking his efforts to allow his wife to “die with dignity” and raising suspicions about his motives.
“They don’t like me because they want the money,” Schiavo told King, in
reference to $1.2 million dollars awarded him and Terri in 1992 as a result of
medical-malpractice suits over her brain injury. Schiavo claims the money has
been used to fund therapy for Terri and only about $50,000 remains in her
fund. WorldNetDaily has reported, Felos has been paid some $358,000 from
the fund and Schiavo’s other attorney reportedly received $80,000.
Fox anchor Sean Hannity asked the couple about Schiavo’s assertion they
were just after money.
“[Terri's adversaries] try to take the focus off of Terri – sort of accuse the
accuser type of thing,” said Robert Schindler. “We’re defending our daughter. She has no attorney defending her, no guardian ad litem – which there should be – so it was left in our hands to defend her. And our family has been vilified for doing that.”
Robert Schindler also asserted Michael Schiavo and his right-to-die
advocate-attorney George Felos have shifted the focus of their public
statements about the case away from the debate over Terri’s current condition
and placed the emphasis on her wishes. He suggested they did so because
more than 150,000 people who viewed video clips of Terri, which the family posted on their website, e-mailed Florida lawmakers and Gov. Bush telling them they didn’t believe the court ruling that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS.
WorldNetDaily has reported that Terri breathes and maintains a heartbeat
and blood pressure on her own. Although her vision is impaired, she can see
and the video shown in court shows her tracking a balloon across the room. It
also apparently demonstrates she can move her limbs on command, vocalize
and respond to her mother.
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
Greer also ruled 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 strategy of [Terri's] adversaries – her husband and his attorney – changed after the videos came out. Now Felos is focusing on her wishes,” Robert Schindler said. “In time, we’ll prove that to be wrong too, if we’re given the chance.”
The Schindlers, including Terri’s sister, Suzanne, and her brother, Bobby,
do not believe Terri, who was a devout Catholic, wants to be starved to death,
which would be the consequences if Michael Schiavo wins the fight to have
her feeding tube removed.
“I’m going to follow Terri’s wish if it’s the last thing I do,” Schiavo told Larry King.
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