March 31, 2005 by

Terri Schiavo

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Categories: Misc.

tschiavo.jpgTheresa Marie Schiavo, the woman at the center of a protracted legal battle in Florida, died on March 31, nearly two weeks after doctors removed her feeding tube. She was 41.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Schiavo moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., in the early 1980s and worked in an administrative capacity for an insurance company. Described by friends as happy, compassionate and quick to smile, Terri was 26 years old in 1990 when she suddenly collapsed. The cause of the collapse is still in debate, but her doctors credit a cardiac arrest induced by a potassium imbalance. For the past 15 years, the severely brain-damaged woman has lived in hospital or hospice care, unable to speak or feed herself.
Her husband, Michael Schiavo, was named her legal guardian. On Terri’s behalf, he filed a malpractice lawsuit and won $300,000 for his loss of consortium. Terri was awarded $700,000, which was placed in a medical trust fund to be used for her care, at her husband’s discretion.
Since 1998, Michael Schiavo has dated another woman and fathered two children. He became estranged from Terri’s family for repeatedly petitioning the courts to have Terri’s feeding tube removed. Michael Schiavo claims Terri once told him that she would want to be taken off life support if she was unable to communicate her own decisions on life sustaining or life support procedures. Terri left no living will, stating her end-of-life preferences.
Her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler, have continuously fought Michael Schiavo in court, and demanded her feeding tube be reinserted. Medical experts hired by the Schindlers dispute that Terri is in a “persistent vegetative state,” and thus deserves nourishment and physical therapy.
In 2002, Judge George W. Greer of Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court in Florida ruled that Terri had no hope of recovery, and ordered her feeding tube removed. The Schindlers appealed and managed to hold off the procedure until Oct. 14, 2003. That day, a Florida appeals court refused to block the removal of Terri’s feeding tube and her doctors completed the procedure. A week later, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allowed Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene on her behalf. “Terri’s Law” dismissed the court’s ruling and ordered the feeding tube be reinserted. Her doctors complied with the state’s request.
Last September, Florida’s Supreme Court declared “Terri’s Law” to be an unconstitutional encroachment on the judiciary. The case was then sent back to Judge Greer, who again ruled in Michael Schiavo’s favor and ordered the removal of Terri’s feeding tube. The procedure was delayed pending appeal.
In recent months, the Schiavo case transformed from a private family matter to a national controversy. Protesters, carrying crosses and candles, camped out in front of the hospice where Terri stayed. Many brought their children to the demonstrations as well. Politicians and pundits made appearances on TV news shows to discuss right-to-life issues, the nature of “family” and the spiritual ramifications of starvation. An Illinois man was even arrested for allegedly robbing a gun store in Seminole, Fla., as part of a plan to “rescue Terri Schiavo.”
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to consider arguments in the case, and Terri’s feeding tube was removed on March 18. Amidst protests and continuing media coverage, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives responded on March 21 by passing the “Compromise Bill,” which ordered the case to be reviewed by a federal court. That same night, President George W. Bush interrupted his vacation in Crawford, Texas, to return to the White House and sign the bill into law.
After reviewing the case, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore ruled that Terri’s “life and liberty interests” had been protected by Florida courts and denied the Schindlers’ request to reinsert her feeding tube. In a 2-1 vote, the 11th Circuit Court agreed with Judge Whittemore’s decision.
On March 24, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Schindlers’ application for a stay of enforcement of the Florida judgment. In response, Gov. Bush threatened to send state agents to the hospice and force the reinsertion of Terri’s feeding tube. Judge Greer then issued an emergency order barring the state from “taking possession of Theresa Marie Schiavo.” Subsequent requests to the federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court failed to overrule the lower courts’ decisions.
After 13 days without food or water, Terri Schiavo died.
Timeline of the Schiavo Case

5 Responses to Terri Schiavo

  1. SKR

    No matter which side of the battlefield we may have been on in the war over her life, we pray for rest and peace for her now. May her family find comfort in knowing she’s in God’s arms now.

  2. Josh

    Thank God that she died peacefully and without knowledge of the controversy surounding her. My God be with her family, both the husband and the parents

  3. Kym

    May she finally rest in enternal peace. God had a plan 13 years ago and now she’s finally allowed to join him. I commend Michael for putting Terri’s needs ahead of the easy road.

  4. Colette

    This has been a heartwrenching battle for all involved personally and for those of us “just watching”. May Terri Rest In Peace and all families involved find some solace. This tragic incident should remind us all that a living will speaks even after you cannot.

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