Terri Schiavo Hospitalized, Husband Keeps Info From Family; Bishop
Announces Support For Letting Terri Live
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 15, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Robert Schindler was in for a shock Thursday afternoon when he went to visit his daughter, Terri Schiavo, at the hospice where she has lived for the last five years.
Terri, 39, had been transferred to a hospital in Clearwater because of a medical emergency, nearly 24 hours earlier.
At the instructions of Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, neither the staff at the hospice or the hospital notified the Schindlers of the transfer, nor could they talk about Terri's medical condition or prognosis for recovery.
Robert and Mary Schindler said Friday that Michael Schiavo is violating a 1996 court order requiring him to notify them of "any significant changes in Theresa Schiavo's condition", and directing him to tell the nursing facility to discuss her condition with the parents.
The incident came three weeks after the Second District Court of Appeal ordered a Pinellas Circuit Court to wait 30 days before scheduling the removal of Terri's feeding tube.
Thirteen years ago Terri was without oxygen for several minutes because of an unusual heart attack. Since then, she has been breathing on her own, but is given food and water through a feeding tube installed in her stomach. The local court has ruled that she is in a "persistent vegetative state" and that she cannot improve. Michael Schiavo contends that his wife would not have wanted to live in her current condition, and has fought through the courts to have her feeding tube removed so she will starve to death.
Her parents have been at legal odds with her husband over his desire that she die. They insist that Schiavo wants to receive several hundred thousand dollars from an insurance settlement that will go to him when Terri dies, and that he wants to marry a woman with whom he has fathered a child.
The Schindlers claim that over a dozen medical professionals have signed affidavits swearing that Terri's condition is being misrepresented, and that she can recover with proper therapies. Video clips show her interacting meaningfully with her parents and doctors, and apparently trying to speak.
Michael Schiavo has refused to allow any therapies for Terri.
One of those supporting the therapy option is a speech-language pathologist from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
"It is my judgment based on my training and clinical experience working with patients similar to Terri that she would, within a reasonable degree of clinical probability, be able to improve her ability to interact with her environment, communicate with others, and control her environment if she were given appropriate therapy and training as outlined above," wrote Sara Green Mele in a signed affidavit. "These recommendations, in my opinion, would greatly improve Terri's quality of life."
Disability rights advocates are closely watching Terri's situation. Many say that Terri's death by starvation would send the message that people with significant disabilities are not worth keeping alive.
On a related note, the Catholic bishop for the Diocese of St. Petersburg has called for Terri's case to be reviewed before the 30-day stay is lifted.
"I strongly recommend that . . . Terri's family be allowed to attempt a medical protocol which they feel would improve her condition," wrote Bishop Robert Lynch in a two-and-a-half-page statement released Tuesday.
Lynch, along with other Catholic bishops in Florida, had been criticized for not speaking out in the case. The St. Petersburg Diocese had issued a statement in October 2002 stating that "as there is significant disagreement among the family of Terri Schiavo . . . the church will refrain from passing judgment on the actions of anyone in this tragic moment."
"Brain-damaged woman hospitalized" (WorldNetDaily.com)
"Pathologist's statement in Terri Schiavo case" (WorldNetDaily.com)
"Bishop: Family Should Be Allowed to Help Disabled Daughter" (Cybercast News Service)
"Terri's Fight" (Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)