Terri Schiavo Back At Hospice; Family Visits
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 22, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Less than 24 hours after a feeding tube was reinstalled in her stomach, Terri Schiavo was shuttled back to Woodside Hospice from Morton Plant Hospital.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who had been barred from visiting her while she was in the hospital, were able to see her at the hospice late Wednesday.
"She looked like someone who'd had the flu," her father said later.
It was the first full day Terri, 39, had received food and water since the feeding tube was removed on October 15. The tube was reinserted at the hospital Tuesday under the orders of Governor Jeb Bush, who had been directed to do so earlier in the day by the state legislature.
Bush's decision to intervene came after his office received tens of thousands of messages from around the world asking for him to spare Terri's life.
When she was 26 years old, Terri collapsed from a heart attack and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then she has been in what some doctors describe as a "persistent vegetative state" from which they believe she cannot recover. Since 1993, Michael Schiavo has said that Terri told him prior to her collapse that she would not want to live "by artificial means". He first petitioned to have her feeding tube removed in 1998. The courts have consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo.
Terri's parents have fought in the courts to keep their daughter alive, and have produced documents from medical professionals arguing that Terri is alert, responsive and could benefit from rehabilitation, including speech and swallowing therapies -- which Mr. Schiavo has refused. The Schindlers claim that Michael wants Terri to die, in part, so he will be able to take advantage of what is left of a insurance settlement and so he can marry another woman with whom he has been living for several years.
Disability rights advocates have been closely watching Terri's case for years. Allowing Terri to starve to death reinforces the message that people with certain disabilities are "better off dead", many believe.
Also on Wednesday, a county circuit court judge issued an order giving the Schindlers and Mr. Schiavo five days to agree on a guardian ad-litem -- a court-appointed advocate -- or he would appoint one.
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman said he supports Governor Bush in his decision to intervene in Terri's case. In the mid-1980s, Lieberman handled the case of a Connecticut woman in a "vegetative state" whose family was trying to get a nursing home to withhold food and water from her. As an attorney involved in the case, Lieberman argued for the tube feeding to continue.
"I believe that certainly in cases where there is not a living will . . . I feel very strongly that we ought to honor life and we ought not to create a system where people are being deprived of nutrition or hydration in a way that ends their lives," Lieberman said.
The Ragged Edge Magazine's Mary Johnson noted Wednesday how the media has somehow missed the entire disability perspective in Terri's story.
"Schiavo is all but lost in the larger discussion, which turns out is about the right to life vs. the right to die," wrote Johnson. "There has been virtually no mention of disability rights -- or the issues disability rights activists have attempted to raise -- in this whole sorry sordid saga."
"Schiavo taken from hospital" (Palm Beach Post)
"Lieberman Backs Jeb Bush in Fla. Case" (Associated Press via FinlLaw.com)
"Who 'owns' Terri Schiavo?" (Ragged Edge Magazine)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation