Terri Schiavo Dies After 13 Days Without Water Or Food
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 1, 2005
PINELLAS PARK, FLORIDA--Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo died at 9:05 Thursday morning at Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park.
She was 41.
Terri's husband Michael, his lawyers, and hospice staff were in the room with her as she drew her final breaths.
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who had fought for over a decade to keep her alive, were at home at the time. They were informed of their daughter's death by telephone, and rushed immediately to her side.
According to various news sources, Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, and her sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, were not allowed to be with her when she passed away. They had been in the room in the hours leading up to her death, but hospice workers asked them to step outside while they assessed her condition. Bobby Schindler reportedly left the room, but said they wanted to stay. Mr. Schiavo then had police keep Terri's siblings out of the room until after her death.
Mr. Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, later said Terri's husband wanted to spare Terri the indignity of dying with armed guards in the room or in the middle of an altercation with her family.
Terri had been without water or food for nearly 13 days from when the feeding tube which provided hydration and nutrition was removed March 18.
The tube was withdrawn under a court order given last month by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer. The judge was convinced that Terri had been in a "persistent vegetative state" since her brain was damaged following a heart attack in February 1990, and that she would not have wanted to be fed through a feeding tube.
Several of Greer's rulings since 1998 had been unsuccessfully challenged by Terri's parents, the Florida Legislature, Governor Jeb Bush, and -- earlier this month -- the U.S. Congress. On Wednesday night, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a sixth and final appeal by the Schindler family to have the feeding tube restored.
About 80 demonstrators mourned outside the hospice after learning the news of Terri's death, according to the Associated Press.
"You saw a murder happening," said Dominique Hanks, who had attended daily vigils in her motorized wheelchair. "Everybody who denied her right to live are accomplices to murder."
Dozens of protesters lingered for several hours after Terri's body was taken away. A few returned Friday for a brief Catholic Mass.
The local medical examiner also announced Friday that an autopsy on Terri's body had been completed. The results of the autopsy are not expected for several weeks. Terri's husband has said the autopsy will prove that Terri's brain was damaged to the point that she was in a persistent vegetative state. Her parents had hoped for her brain to be scanned with new technologies before her death to prove she was still alert and aware of her surroundings.
Terri's body is to be cremated according to Mr. Schiavo's wishes. Schiavo's brother, Scott, said Thursday that Michael would hold a private memorial service and that Terri's family would not be told where Terri's ashes are to be buried so they cannot attend and create a disturbance. A court has ordered Schiavo to tell the family of the burial site, planned for a location somewhere in Pennsylvania.
The Schindlers said they are planning a funeral Mass next Tuesday or Wednesday.