Terri Schiavo suffered no trauma prior to her collapse in 1990 under disputed circumstances, according to the autopsy report released today by the Pinellas County medical examiner’s office in Florida.
Terri Schiavo, 1963-2005
Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said Schiavo’s brain was about half of normal size at the time of her death.
Thogmartin concluded she likely did not suffer a heart attack and found no evidence she took harmful drugs or other substances prior to her death.
The medical examiner also said Schiavo could not have eaten or drunk on her own.
“Removal of her feeding tube would have resulted in her death whether she was fed or hydrated by mouth or not,” Thogmartin told reporters.
He also said she was blind, because the “vision centers of her brain were dead.”
The autopsy results on the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman were made public more than two months after her death ended a high-profile battle that brought in Congress and the White House.
Schiavo died March 31, nearly two weeks after the feeding tube that had kept her alive was removed under a court order obtained by her husband, Michael Schiavo.
Her death ended a bitter legal battle between Michael Schiavo, who said his wife did not want to be kept alive artificially, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. Both Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers found doctors to support their views.
Testimony in a 1992 civil trial indicated that her heart stopped probably because of a severe chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. The Schindlers, though, do not believe she had an eating disorder and have accused Michael Schiavo of abusing his wife, a charge he vehemently denies. The autopsy report found no evidence that Terri had an eating disorder.
The Schiavo case was the subject of an act of Congress and several Supreme Court reviews. It dominated international press coverage during the month of March.
A decision by the Supreme Court the night before her death against intervening sealed her fate. The emergency request argued the federal courts did not consider whether there was enough “clear and convincing” evidence that Terri Schiavo had expressed a wish to not live in her current condition. The trial court in Pinellas County, Fla., determined she was in a persistent vegetative state. The Schindlers countered that assessment with statements from neurologists who claimed she was in a “minimally conscious state,” able to respond to stimuli.
Terri Schiavo’s life-sustaining feeding tube was removed by court order March 18 after a decade of bitter legal wrangling between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers, who insisted their daughter had a strong will to live.
Her body was taken to the Pinellas County medical examiner’s officer for an autopsy. It was then cremated and interred in Pennsylvania, according to Michael Schiavo’s wishes.
Some legal analysts, while respectful of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s efforts, criticized the governor for not using the executive powers they believe he had to take Terri Schiavo into protective custody.
Bush filed a motion to that end with Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer, who had presided over the case for seven years, but it was rejected. The governor’s critics maintain, however, he did not need judicial permission to act.
President Bush rushed back to Washington during a vacation to sign a bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the case. However, the federal courts ignored the act of Congress and left the case with Greer.
Editor’s note: “Life and Death in America” – a stunning special investigative report that starts with the Terri Schiavo story, but goes on to expose as never before America’s rapidly expanding euthanasia/”right-to-die” movement – is the focus of the May issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine.
For background on the 15-year saga, read “The whole Terri Schiavo story.”
WorldNetDaily has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002 – far longer than most other national news organization – and exposing the many troubling, scandalous, and possibly criminal, aspects of the case that to this day rarely surface in news reports. Read WorldNetDaily’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of the life-and-death fight over Terri Schiavo, including over 150 original stories and columns.
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.