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My wife and I are the parent’s of a severely retarded son. In the 12 and one-half years he was on this earth, he had many illnesses. A lot of them required hospitalizations. Because of our son’s disability and his illnesses, our exposure to the medical profession was extensive. Likewise our understanding of medicine became more astute with time.

It is from this vantage point I offer you the following. I have been puzzled, as I have become familiar with some facets of the Terri Schiavo case, why Judge George Greer consistently favors the witnesses of Michael Schiavo, but summarily dismisses the sworn testimony brought forth by Terri’s parents. For example, in late 1998 when the court assigned guardian ad litem suggested that the feeding tube not be disconnected on Michael Schiavo’s word alone, Schiavo produced his brother and sister-in-law … with testimony highly consistent with Schiavo’s. In the previous court proceedings these witnesses weren’t mentioned.

However, the Schindlers produced a nurse from Terri’s first nursing home who suspected that Michael Schiavo had injected Terri with insulin as to produce insulin shock and coma. In support of her testimony the nurse testified that Michael Schiavo had spent 20 minutes in Mrs. Schiavo’s room with the door closed. Afterward, the nurse found Mrs. Schiavo sweating and unconscious, her blood sugar was next to nothing and she found injection marks in numerous places on Mrs. Schiavo’s body. The nurse also found an empty insulin vial in the trash can. The nurse reported this to the head of the nursing home and, when nothing was done, she went to the police. I believe the year was 1994.

When Michael Schiavo found out about the report, he persuaded the nursing home management to fire the nurse. I don’t know how he did this, but later Schiavo would move his wife from the nursing home after the management of the nursing home informed him that he couldn’t withhold antibiotics from his wife for a urinary tract infection she had.

Judge Greer summarily dismissed the nurse’s testimony because she had taken too long to come forward to testify on Mrs. Schiavo’s behalf.

Again and again, Judge Greer did this in the process. I couldn’t figure out why. As I became more familiar with the particulars of the case and Judge Greer’s rulings, it struck me that he is prejudiced against mentally retarded people. Of course, he doesn’t think he’s prejudiced. In fact, I very much believe that he’s quite convinced that in his mind he believes that he’s doing Terri Schiavo a favor by releasing her from her handicap.

Unfortunately, there is an idiotic belief in our society that by letting our mentally disabled citizens die that we are doing them a favor. Many times during our son’s life my wife and I were asked by health professionals would it not be better if we’d just to let our son die when a serious illness afflicted him. I know of other cases where this has happened, as well as the marginalizing of retarded children’s lives when they die under strange circumstances.

In Washington state, three handicapped children died under suspicious circumstances, yet no one was held answerable to the law. In one case, there was even an eyewitness to a doctor who suffocated an infant girl because he thought the infant was brain damaged from meningitis. This doctor is free and still practicing medicine.

Is Judge Greer prejudiced against retarded people? I think so. It’s the only thing that makes sense as to why Judge Greer ruled so often for Michael Schiavo’s evidence and against the evidence that should have persuaded him to let Terri Schiavo live.

Tom Waleryszak

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