Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Terri Schiavo's Life Goes On, At Least For Now
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express"
January 13, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA--On January 3 and 4, Reverend Rus Cooper-Dowda, her husband and her son gathered with about 70 supporters for a sidewalk vigil "to embrace the life of Terri Schiavo and all the other people with disabilities, their families and supporters."

Terri, 39, has been in a coma since 1990 when she collapsed during a heart attack and was without oxygen for about five minutes. Doctors said her brain was damaged to the point that she is in a "persistive vegetative state".

Her husband and legal guardian, Michael, believes his wife would not have wanted to stay alive. He wants her feeding tube to be removed so she will starve and die.

But Terri's parents have said that she responds to them when they visit. They have fought through the courts to keep their daughter alive. They believe that Terri's condition might be improved if Michael were to pay for tests and treatments out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars left over from a malpractice suit.

In November, a judge ruled that Terri's feeding tube could be removed on January 3. But on Christmas Eve, the Second District Court of Appeals agreed to hear an appeal by her parents this coming April, thereby requiring her to continue being fed through the tube, for now.

Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's situation closely. The judge's decision stating that she is not worth keeping alive sends a strong negative message to the disability community and to those who do not yet have such a disability.

Cooper-Dowda says she can empathize with Terri and her parents. While coming out of a coma 17 years ago, she heard doctors talking about removing her own life support.

She later went on to earn a second master's degree and give birth to Max, the son she was carrying at the time of the coma. Max was with his mother at the vigil earlier this month.

Today "Rev Rus" keeps advocates up-to-date on Terri Schiavo's situation, writes disability rights articles for publications such as The Ragged Edge, and advocates for more inclusive churches.

"Imperfections are part of life, ministers note" (St. Petersburg Times)
The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
"The Hearing to Save Terri Schiavo's Life" (Ragged Edge Online)
Terri Shiavo's Right to Live (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.