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Schiavo's husband faces contempt of court allegations
Posted By Sarah Foster On 02/27/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
The parents of Terri Schindler-Schaivo, the brain-disabled Florida woman
whose husband is trying to end her life by removing her feeding tube, wants
their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, charged with contempt of court for not
keeping them apprised about their daughter’s health, which he is bound by
court order to do.
Attorney Patricia Anderson, who represents Bob and Mary Schindler in their
ongoing legal battle with Schiavo, filed a HREF="http://www.zimp.org/documents/022404contempt.pdf">“show cause”
motion Tuesday in Pinellas County Circuit Court, asking the court to
force Schiavo to explain why he should not be held in contempt for ignoring
court order that requires him to inform the Schindlers of any
significant changes in Terri’s medical condition.
The order further directs Schiavo to notify in writing any nursing home
where his wife is placed that he has no objection to the staff discussing
her medical condition with her parents. But Schiavo, who is Terri’s guardian
as well as her husband, has consistently ignored the mandate of the order,
and to date the court has not held him to account.
The filing of contempt charges was prompted by a sudden change in Terri’s
condition and subsequent orders by Schiavo to the staff of the Park Side
Clearwater Assisted Living Facility, where she is currently residing, not to
discuss her case with the Schindlers
”Michael Schiavo’s flagrant violation of the simple and understandable terms
of the 1996 Order is deliberate and contumacious,” Anderson wrote. ”… [His]
conduct demonstrates a complete disregard for his duties under the 1996
Order toward the Court and toward the Schindlers.”
The motion calling for Schiavo to be held in contempt of court is the latest
salvo in a multi-year legal battle over whether Terri should be allowed to
live, which is what her parents and siblings want, or starved and dehydrated
to death in accordance with her husband’s wishes.
As WorldNetDaily has reported, Terri collapsed under unexplained
circumstances in February 1990 at the age of 26. Oxygen to her brain was cut
off for several minutes, leaving her severely brain-disabled and dependant
upon a feeding tube for nourishment.
Schiavo insists his wife told him years before her collapse that she would
never want to be kept alive ”through artificial means,” and four years ago
he convinced probate Judge George Greer to allow him to remove her feeding
tube. Terri’s parents don’t believe for a minute that Terri ever made the
statements attributed to her, and through a series of legal maneuvers have
managed to keep the case and their daughter alive. Their options appeared to
have run out last year when the 2nd District Court of Appeal made a final
ruling in Schiavo’s favor and the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear the
In October, Terri endured six days without nourishment and hydration before
Florida lawmakers passed ”Terri’s Law” that allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to
intervene and order her feeding tube reinserted, an action immediately
challenged by Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos.
Pleading for help
Being kept in the dark on matters concerning Terri’s health has been a sore
point with her family for years. The issue came to a head early last week
when the Schindlers learned she had been vomiting for no apparent reason, a
condition that could lead to aspirational pneumonia and death.
Terri started throwing up the weekend of Feb. 14-15, and as on similar
occasions in the past her parents were not told that she was ill. However,
when they visited her Sunday at the Park Side facility in Clearwater where
she is currently residing, they couldn’t help but notice that she seemed
lethargic and didn’t vocalize as she usually does – an indication that
something was wrong.
At one point Terri began weeping, Schindler told WorldNetDaily. She was more
than just lethargic; she was distressed, he said.
”She was so – what’s the word? forlorn,” he added. ”It was like she was
pleading for help. Not in what she was saying, but you could tell from her
Although Terri had begun throwing up Sunday, and possibly Saturday, it
wasn’t until she visited again on Monday that Mary Schindler learned from
nurses that Terri had been throwing up. She was cool to the touch, an
indication there was no fever and presumably no infection.
Too much, too fast?
Anderson said Mary Schindler is particularly concerned because Terri was not
being fed in an upright position, but lying down, which might have been a
cause of her throwing up. Mary also believes the rate of flow of the food
formula had been increased and was being given over a longer period of the
day. If this is the case, Terri’s stomach could fill too quickly and become
extended – that, too, could be a factor in her vomiting.
Mary telephoned Terri’s physician and talked with him.
When Schiavo found out the family knew of Terri’s illness and was concerned
about her feeding, he moved quickly to block the sources of information.
‘Far from abiding by that order, [Schiavo] instructed Terri’s treating
physician and the nurses not to speak to the Schindlers about her
condition, exactly the opposite of what he’s supposed to do,” Anderson told
‘Almost a rerun’
This isn’t the first time in recent months Terri’s fallen ill under
Last August she was rushed to
Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater because she was coughing up blood.
She was suspected of having an ulcer, but that was never determined, and the
hospital discharged her within a few days not fully recovered and with her
ailment still undiagnosed. The court ordered Schiavo to provide the
Schindlers with a copy of the discharge summary, but he has not done so.
Schindler said he learned that she had actually aspirated her feeding
formula and that she was fed in a horizontal position rather than sitting
”She was lying flat in the bed and they had cranked up the rate of flow of
the intake,” Schindler recalled. ”That’s when she aspirated and had to be
taken to the hospital. What happened last Sunday and Monday was almost a
A hearing on the motion for contempt of court is scheduled for next Tuesday,
but meanwhile the family is being kept in the dark. Attorney Anderson said
she does not know whether Terri has recovered because ”no one will tell the
”Nobody knows,” she exclaimed. ”The doctor will not now speak with the
parents. The nurses say they can’t say anything. I don’t know if Terri’s
vomited again or not. We have no way of knowing.”
Information, including court filings, are posted on the Schindler family
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