Published November 18, 2003, Top Story
Clearwater, Florida—Some people say Terri Schiavo has no life worth living. Some say whatever life is left should be taken.
Her husband, Michael, says both. He has tried for years to get the courts to order an end to his wife. Last month, he succeeded.
The Florida Legislature and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, however, rescued her just in time.
In 1990, Mrs. Schiavo’s brain was suddenly and severely damaged. No one knows how. Some believe she suffered a chemical imbalance or heart attack. At least one doctor who examined her says she might have been strangled.
Mrs. Schiavo has been severely disabled ever since, but not completely unconscious and not on artificial life support. Although she might have been able to swallow food, a judge ruled that no therapy be allowed. So she has received nourishment and water all these years through a feeding tube.
In 2001, the same judge, George Greer, granted Michael Schiavo’s request. He ordered Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube removed. Two days later, another judge ordered it replaced.
Last month, the tube was removed again on Judge Greer’s order. Mrs. Schiavo was starved for six days. At the last minute, her life was saved when the Florida legislature passed an emergency law overruling the courts. Governor Bush immediately ordered the feeding tube replaced.
George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, called Governor Bush’s action “inhumane and barbaric.”
Sidebar: The Wide-Angle Lens
Terri Schiavo’s dad and mom say she actively responds to their affection. They are willing to care for her for the rest of their lives. A couple of years ago, they took a video in her nursing home showing her smiling and seemingly trying to listen to them. Michael Schiavo got Judge Greer to forbid any more videos and to limit her parents’ visits. He also got him to order that all medical information about Terri be kept from them.
Editorial on the news by Norm Bomer
Doesn’t this story seem like a nightmarish fairy tale?
“We’re now dealing with activist judges who are determining who among us is permitted to live,” says Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Of course, that’s nothing new. For 30 years, U.S. courts have been condemning helpless, innocent children. Now they are condemning helpless, innocent adults.
At least 10 doctors who examined Terri Schiavo say she would probably improve with therapy.
Why did her husband get Judge Greer to forbid it? And why does he want her feeding tube removed?
I don’t know. But some things everybody knows:
Michael Schiavo once vowed before God to love and care for his bride as long as they both should live.
Michael Schiavo says Terri once told him she would not want to live in such a disabled condition. No one else heard her say that.
Michael Schiavo blamed Terri’s doctors for her condition and sued them. A court ordered them to pay him $1.3 million. He promised to use it for her care.
After winning the money, he began trying to have her life ended. He stands to inherit most of the money.
The ACLU supports Michael Schiavo’s campaign to terminate his wife. So does Planned Parenthood—America’s largest abortion business. Can you guess why?
Organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood believe certain people should have the legal right to get rid of certain other people who are a burden to them.
Disposing of human “burdens” is selfishness in its most evil form. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood call it “women’s rights.” But those words are as lethally deceitful as the words of Michael Schiavo’s lawyer.
If the ACLU and Planned Parenthood support women’s rights, why are they not defending Mrs. Schiavo? Because if the law would protect Terri Schiavo, it might someday protect unborn children.
Throughout most of history, death was defined as the end of breathing and heartbeat. Modern medicine has changed that.
Now a person can sometimes be kept breathing with a machine—even when the brain is considered “dead.” Unplug the machine and breathing stops.
Is that the end of life? Or did the end actually come sooner? Even Christians pray and struggle over such life-and-death questions.
Many people—including Christians—make it clear that if they ever get in such a condition they do not want to be kept breathing by a machine. And many people—including Christians—suffer great anguish over what to do for a loved one in such a condition.
In Terri Schiavo’s case, the right thing to do is much clearer—and her parents have no doubts about that. She does not need machines to keep her alive. But like many disabled people, she’s unable to feed herself.
Of course, infants are also unable to feed themselves. That doesn’t mean we should be free to choose to quit feeding them if we don’t want them anymore.
When it comes to the lives of the helpless, godly people are never “pro-choice.”