Guardian Recommends Swallowing Tests For Terri Schiavo
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 11, 2003
TAMPA, FLORIDA--As Terri Schiavo turned 40 last week, the controversy continued over her husband's wish to see her die of starvation, and her family's wish -- backed by Governor Jeb Bush -- for her to stay alive.
Court-appointed guardian Jay Wolfson told the governor on December 2 that Terri cannot recover from her disability, but that more tests need to be done before he would recommend removing the feeding tube that provides her food and water.
In his 38-page report, Wolfson, a University of South Florida professor and lawyer, concluded that all existing medical evidence shows Terri's cerebral cortex is "practically liquid," she cannot swallow on her own and "cannot consciously interact with her environment."
Wolfson recommended a new round of tests to see if Terri can swallow. If the tests show she can do so, she should be allowed to stay alive, Wolfson wrote.
Terri's parents and their supporters found hope in Wolfson's report.
"Clearly Dr. Wolfson has come to the same conclusion that we have had for some time," explained Pat Anderson, an attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler. "Further medical testing is required for Terri before any further decisions can be made."
Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's legal battle for several years. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed from an apparent heart attack in February 1990 and was without oxygen for several minutes. The courts have supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".
Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with rehabilitative therapies which Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They claim that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can marry another woman with whom he has fathered two children, and so he can benefit from what's left of an insurance settlement that now pays for her treatment. They want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their allegations that he abused, neglected and financially exploited her.
The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging and that of right-to-life advocates, the governor championed "Terri's Law". The measure allowed the legislature to give Bush permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted on October 21, six days after it had been removed under a court order. The law also called for appointing the independent guardian to review her situation and provide the governor with recommendations.
In related news, a poll of Florida voters found that nearly two-thirds disagree with the new law and the stance Bush has taken in Terri's case.
"Fla. lawyer recommends additional testing for Schiavo" (Orlando Sentinel)
"Poll: Voters Not Backing Schiavo Law" (St. Petersburg Times via Lakeland Ledger)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation