Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, yesterday called for preservation of Terri Schiavo’s life, citing the recent, spontaneous recovery of Sarah Scantlin after 20 years of memory loss and inability to speak.
Dobson said Schiavo – the brain-injured Florida woman whose parents are battling her husband in court to save her life – deserves the same chance at life Scantlin was given.
“Both cases have involved women who suffered debilitating injuries and continued to live in a disabled state.,” said Dobson. “Today we celebrate the news that Ms. Scantlin has regained her memory and ability to speak, and is apparently on the road to recovery.”
Scantlin, 18 at the time of her accident, was injured so badly that doctors first believed she would live the rest of her life in a persistent vegetative state. Until she suddenly spoke, “OK, OK,” last month, she had lived in a nursing home, unaware of her environment and unable to make sounds or form words.
Dobson’s call comes on the same day Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer turned down a request to set aside an earlier order allowing Schiavo’s feeding tube to be removed.
According to George Felos, attorney for Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo, the tube could be removed as early as February 22, barring appeals.
Robert and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, had been seeking a hearing to argue that their son-in-law has a conflict-of-interest in seeking to end their daughter’s life and that she should have been appointed counsel to represent her own interests.
Michael Schiavo has begun a new family since his wife’s injuries 15 years ago. The Schindlers have asked to take over care, including the expense, for Terri, but Michael Schiavo has refused to surrender custody.
In rejecting the request to set aside his order and consider separate counsel for the injured Schiavo, Judge Greer cited a 2nd Court of Appeals ruling to justify his continuing as the woman’s independent advocate. Greer already has ruled twice that the evidence showed Terri Schiavo would not want to be kept alive artificially.
The Schindlers are heartened by Scantlin’s recovery and are expected to appeal.
“In light of the miraculous awakening of Miss Sarah Scantlin in Kansas and the success of the new brainwave test reported in the New York Times this week, my daughter deserves to have this test before she is starved to death by judicial decree,” Bob Schindler said.
“Mental disabilities do not damage a person’s worth – the preciousness of life is not defined by one’s abilities. Those who suffer a disabling injury are entitled to the same right to life as we all are. Those seeking to take away Mrs. Schiavo’s right to life should have second thoughts after hearing Sarah Scantlin’s story.”
Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.
Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.