A Philadelphia Inquirer columnist who believes in the “right to die” has changed his mind about the Terri Schiavo case, pointing to “uncomfortable details” about her estranged husband that now lead him to side with the parents of the brain-damaged Florida woman, who are fighting to keep her alive.
John Grogan said in a column published today, “I no longer so blithely believe Schiavo’s feeding tubes should be pulled and her life allowed to end. I’m no longer so sure her parents do not deserve a say in their daughter’s future. I no longer am totally comfortable assuming her husband, Michael, who now has two children by another woman, is acting unselfishly.”
Michael Schiavo has been living with his fiance Jodi Centonze since 1995 and has said he will marry her upon the death of his wife.
Grogan said he hasn’t changed his opinion that everyone has a right to “die with dignity,” but he believes that in the Schiavo case, the “devil is in the details, uncomfortable details that raise sticky moral dilemmas.”
Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 after collapsing. Michael Schiavo attributes it to a chemical imbalance caused by an eating disorder, but parents Robert and Mary Schindler believe he may have tried to strangle her.
Michael Schiavo contends his wife told him she never would want to be kept alive artificially.
But Grogan points out Terri Schiavo’s heart and lungs function on their own, and she requires only a feeding tube that might not be necessary if she were given physical therapy.
The columnist notes Michael Schiavo, as her legal guardian, has forbidden any therapy.
“If [Terri] Schiavo merely required spoon feeding instead of tube feeding, would anyone seriously be arguing to withhold food and water?” Grogan asked. “Does not every human, no matter how incapacitated, deserve sustenance?”
Grogan also is concerned about abuse allegations against Michael Schiavo and believes they should be investigated.
The allegations “may be nothing but scurrilous rumor spread to damage his credibility,” he wrote. “But what if there is even a tiny chance he is guilty of abuse? Should such a person be in a position to decide this life-and-death issue?”
When it comes to who is best to decide, Grogan wrote, it’s clear that Terri Schiavo’s parents “have proved themselves nothing if not fiercely loyal, utterly committed parents. They might be misguided. They might be in denial. But no one can argue their devotion. They have not given up. They have not stopped caring. They have not stopped loving. Who are we, as a society, to tell them they must?
Clearly, Schiavo’s husband has moved on to a new life, and who can blame him? It’s been 15 long years. But parents cannot move on. Parents cannot give up. Their child will always be the precious gift they brought into the world.
If the Schindlers want to dedicate the rest of their lives and resources to caring for their brain-damaged daughter, if they want to shower her with attention and affection she likely will never recognize, who among us will tell them they cannot
It won’t be me.
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.