- "Further allegations have come from three of Mrs
Schiavo's former carers who have filed court affidavits that her husband
tried to hasten her death by hiding her physical abilities, withholding
medical care and possibly secretly injecting her with drugs."
- WASHINGTON -- For 13 years
Terri Schiavo has lain in bed severely brain-damaged, fed by a tube and
unable to tell the outside world whether she wants to live or die.
- Her husband, Michael, says his wife once told him she
would not want her life artificially extended. Her parents, Bob and Mary
Schindler, argue against the opinion of most experts that with extensive
therapy she might to some extent recover. Even if she does not improve,
they say, life in any form is worth preserving.
- Yesterday Mrs Schiavo's husband prevailed. After a court
judgment on Tuesday, doctors in Florida removed the feeding tube that has
kept the 39-year-old woman alive. She is expected to die sometime within
the next fortnight.
- "We will try to have Mike or a representative there
as much as possible after the feeding tube is removed, hopefully at all
times," said Deborah Bushnell, a lawyer speaking on behalf of Mr Schiavo,
who has not publicly commented in recent months.
- But the case is not one of the usual right-to-die arguments
which find their way into the courts and are decided by a judge following
the letter of the law. It has sparked a bitter and prolonged fight between
Mr Schiavo who has a new partner expecting their second child and his wife's
- The bitter feud has involved the courts and has drawn
allegations that Mr Schiavo is profiteering from his wife's death, and
even that he was responsible for the "persistent vegetative state"
in which she has lain since the winter of 1990 when her heart inexplicably
stopped and cut off the oxygen supply to her brain.
- In recent days about two dozen campaigners have held
a vigil outside the hospice in the Tampa suburb of Pinellas Park, demanding
that Mrs Schiavo be kept alive. On Tuesday those protests took a new twist
when Mrs Schiavo's parents, Mr and Mrs Schindler, disobeyed a court order
and released to the media a video they had recorded of their daughter two
- The five-minute tape shows their daughter lying in bed
moaning, moving and opening her eyes while Mrs Schindler holds her face
close to that of her daughter, repeatedly saying the words "Ma, ma".
During a press conference the Schindlers also claimed that their daughter
almost fell out of her chair when a New Age healer told her over a telephone
held to her ear that if she did not get up she would die.
- "All we want is to bring Terri home," said
Mr Schindler, who has spent many days recently pacing up and down outside
the hospice. "Our objective is just to get her the treatment she deserves."
Mr Schindler said the videotape they released was further proof that their
daughter "is a live human being".
- But the decision may have forfeited the Schindlers the
chance to be with their daughter as she dies. George Greer, a Pinellas
circuit court judge, had ordered that no recordings be made and according
to Mr Schiavo's lawyers, their violation of the court order means that
their visitation rights will be restricted and they will only be able to
see their daughter when he, or one of his representatives, is present.
- That threat appears to he real. On Tuesday afternoon
Mr and Mrs Schindler and their son Robert, tried to visit Mrs Schiavo but
were turned away by police. "Terri is going to die alone without her
family," her brother told the local news channel.
- Kenneth Goodman, director of the bioethics programme
at the University of Miami, told The New York Times it had become the "ugliest
end-of-life case ever". He added: "[The case] will underscore
that it's never too early to talk to family members and loved ones about
advance care wishes."
- The Schindlers have claimed that before their daughter
suffered the unexplained heart-stoppage, she had told them she wanted a
divorce. They have even said he might have strangled her on the night she
collapsed, claiming at least one doctor said she had a stiff neck when
she was brought into hospital. They have also questioned why Mr Schiavo,
his wife's legal guardian, did not spend the $1m he won in a medical malpractice
suit on rehabilitative therapy for her.
- Further allegations have come from three of Mrs Schiavo's
former carers who have filed court affidavits that her husband tried to
hasten her death by hiding her physical abilities, withholding medical
care and possibly secretly injecting her with drugs.
- In response, Mr Schiavo has alleged that the Schindlers
want custody of their daughter, something they failed to secure in a separate
court action, because they want some of the malpractice money. He has also
dismissed the allegations that he harmed his wife.
- Most doctors, including one appointed by the court, appear
to support Mr Schiavo's claim that his wife will never recover. The Schindlers,
supported in turn by some experts, believe that with therapy she could
be taught to swallow for herself.
- Dr Goodman said, however, that he believed Mrs Schiavo's
parents were expecting too much from their daughter.
- Such opinion has not dissuaded the Schindlers, who even
yesterday were trying to overturn the court's ruling, appealing to the
Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, to intercede. Mr Bush has said he was unable
to intervene but added that he found the case "very troubling"
and wanted Mrs Schiavo to live.
- Those involved in the case have said that once the feeding
tube is removed Mrs Schiavo will feel nothing and within days would "slowly
start to fade away". Her husband was due to be at the hospice yesterday
afternoon when the tube was removed but did not expect to be in the same
room as his wife.
- Her parents meanwhile refuse to accept what is happening
to their daughter. Mr Schindler said: "In our eyes, it's murder."
- © 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
- Florida State's Attorney, Criminal Jurisdiction
- I just got off the phone with the Florida State's Attorney
office with CRIMINAL jurisdiction over the Pinellas Park nursing home where
Terri Schiavo is being tortured by witholding WATER. The number is: 1-727-464-6221
- I stated that witholding water from a CONSCIOUS person
is A CRIMINAL MATTER, not civil, and that his office SHOULD GET INVOLVED.
- I got through to one of the DAs and asked him if I were
to withold water from him or a member of his family, would that be a crime?
- This lowlife actually told me that witholding water from
anyone ELSE is DIFFERENT from witholding water from Terri, even though
I had just reminded hime she is CONSCIOUS. CONSCIOUS.
- He said "<harrumph> It is the official position
of this office that we are not involved" and hung up.
- I wish I had asked him to remember Terri Schiavo every
time he takes a drink of WATER!
- I can't believe this isn't a dream!