President Supports His Brother's Position in Terri Schiavo Case;
Husband Accuses In-laws Of Wanting Wife's Money
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 28, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--President George W. Bush said Tuesday morning that he agrees with the October 21 decision by his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to order an end to Terri Schiavo's starvation last week.
"I believe my brother made the right decision," President Bush said in response to a reporter's question during a nationally-televised news conference at the White House.
Monday night, Michael Schiavo appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" to explain why he wants his wife to die starve to death, a wish that led to her feeding tube being removed by court order on October 15.
"I love my wife and I'm going to follow her wishes and nothing's going to stop me," said Mr. Schiavo, who is also Terri's legal guardian.
When Larry King asked Mr. Schiavo about the other woman with whom he has been living for several years, and with whom he has sired two children, Schiavo answered, "I'm lucky. I have two great women to love." Schiavo has refused to divorce his wife.
Mr. Schiavo claims his wife told him she would not want to be kept alive "by artificial means" sometime before she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes on February 25, 1990. While some doctors have said Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state" from which she will not recover, others argue that she is alert, responsive and could benefit from rehabilitation -- which her husband has refused for many years.
Schiavo first petitioned the court to have Terri's feeding tube removed in 1998, six years after winning a $1.2 million malpractice insurance settlement. Several court decisions have supported his decision.
"Terri's Law" was passed in a special session by the Florida legislature, over-ruling the courts and giving Governor Bush authority to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it was removed. Bush's action came after concerted activism by disability and right-to-life groups. Schiavo and his attorney plan to challenge the constitutionality of the new law, claiming that the legislative and executive branches cannot go against the courts.
During the interview, Mr. Schiavo told King he believes Terri's parents want his guardianship revoked so they can have what's left of an insurance settlement that has since dwindled to around $50,000.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, claim that Mr. Schiavo has spent more than one-half of the money on legal fees fighting in the courts to have Terri's gastronomy tube removed, rather than on rehabilitative therapies as he had originally promised.
Schiavo also told King he believes his wife's collapse was caused by a potassium imbalance brought on by bulimia, an eating disorder in which the person purposefully vomits to keep weight low.
Last Friday, forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told Fox News that it was extremely rare for a person in her 20s to have a heart attack from low levels of potassium. Baden suggested that a bone scan done in 1991 shows evidence of possible trauma to Terri's head and to other parts of her body.
The Schindlers have long suspected that Mr. Schiavo may have caused Terri's initial collapse. The state's Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities is currently investigating the Schindlers' claims that Schiavo has abused their daughter, and has prevented visits from family members and priests.
"They are conducting a pretty comprehensive investigation into past and current allegations of abuse, allegations that Terri is being abused, neglected and exploited," said Schindler spokesperson Pamela Hennessy. "They're going to be looking over the current condition that she is in, the fact that therapy has been withheld, the fact that she's kept in isolation. All these things are abuses."
The St. Petersburg Times published a story Tuesday explaining both sides of the issue and the terminology being used to describe Terri's condition.
The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine also issued a statement explaining the differences between "vegetative" and "minimally conscious" states. The organization suggested that Terri's conscious state be evaluated on a regular basis, because function has been known to return to people in her condition.
"Schiavo suspects bulimia caused wife's collapse" (CNN.com)
"The Interview That Wasn't" opinion by Wesley J. Smith (Weekly Standard)
Doctor Says Schiavo Likely Victim of 'Some Kind of Trauma' (Cybercast News Service)
"Understanding Terri Schiavo" (St. Petersburg Times)
"Rehabilitation Organization Clarifies Clinical Distinctions Between the Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States" (U.S. Newswire) http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=131-10282003
"Life should be the default answer in controversial cases" opinion by Russ Maney (Snitch.com)
"Schiavo Case Demands Answers To Bigger Questions" column by Maggie Gallagher (Yahoo.com)
Expanded coverage: "Terri Schiavo's Right to Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)