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Terri Schiavo: Scheduled For Dehydration, Starvation, Beginning Friday.

Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman in the headlines so often over the past couple of years, is scheduled to have her feeding tube removed this Friday.

Under such a scenario, she likely would die from dehydration before starvation, and the process would be slow and painful, drawn out over at least two days. Not only would the tube be removed, she would be denied food and water of any kind by mouth. This is not merely allowing her to die with dignity, this is direct euthanasia, as the Vatican's top bioethicist put it, a "cruel way of killing someone."

Judge George W. Greer of Florida's Sixth Circuit ruled that Terri is in a persistent vegatative state (PVS). This essentially means, under Florida law, that an individual:

...exhibits no voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind and is unable to communicate or interact purposely with the environment.

Ruling that she is in a vegetative state paves the way for her legal dehydration.

Wesley J. Smith, author of Forced Exit : The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder, writing for National Review, explains that the ruling was erroneous:

Mercifully, however, the law got in the way.

More from Smith:

Dr. William Hammesfahr, a world-renowned expert in cases such as Terri's — and a Nobel Prize nominee — testified that Terri is not in a PVS. He also testified that he believes he could help her improve her circumstances through proper medical treatment. Ten other physicians have testified or given statements that Terri is not unconscious. Judge Greer instead chose to believe contrary testimony by a doctor who rarely sees Terri and another doctor, who makes an avocation of testifying in cases such as Terri's throughout the country, always on the side of dehydration.

Despite the clear financial and personal conflicts of interest, Judge Greer repeatedly sides with Michael and against Terri's father, mother, and siblings, who want to care for her for the rest of her life. This means that the man who might benefit financially from his wife's death and who has clear personal reasons for wanting Terri to die continues to have almost sole say over how she is treated and cared for — or denied care — on a daily basis.

Indeed, Terri exhibits voluntary actions and cognitive behavior, and she does communicate and interact with her surroundings.

At terrisfight.org, you can download videos that show Terri clearly responding to music, her mother, and other stimuli. Terri may be severely handicapped, but she is no vegetable. You can also view videos at blogsforterri.com.

So why is Terri's husband so intent on her death? And why can't he just turn over her medical decisions to her parents and the rest of her family?

Money, perhaps. It is understandable that he would want to move on with his life, as he now has a new relationship and children. He would stand to inherit a significant amount of money if and when she passes on.

Michael Schiavo also contends that Terri told him she would prefer to die in this kind of circumstance. But that claim is not substantiated, and it seems that in the event of one part of the family choosing death and the other choosing life, that life should triumph. As a rule life should triumph.

Terri's family, the Schindlers, should be able to care for her; the solution seems fairly straightforward: Michael Schiavo turns over custody to Terri's family and moves on with his life.

A San Diego businessman, Robert Herring, offered Michael Schiavo $1 million to transfer the authority to determine his wife's medical treatment to Terri's family; other offers have been made in the past, including one of $10 million. Michael Schiavo firmly rejected the latest offer.

Herring, commenting on his offer:

"I believe very strongly that there are medical advances happening around the globe that very shortly could have a positive impact on Terri's condition," said Herring, who founded an electronics firm before launching the affluence-oriented cable network last year. "I have seen miraculous recoveries occur through the use of stem cells in patients suffering a variety of conditions."

Some common questions and answers about Terri:

If Terri hasn't recovered after all these years of therapy, why not let go?

Terri hasn't had meaningful therapy since 1991, but many credible physicians say she can benefit from it.

Why can't Terri just divorce?

Terri's husband/guardian speaks for her. She cannot divorce without his permission

Does Terri have an advanced directive or any wishes about her healthcare?

Terri never signed any directive or living will and there is no evidence that she foresaw her present situation.

Why do Terri's family fight to keep her alive? Shouldn't they let her husband decide?

Terri's husband has started another family and probably has gone on with his life. Terri's family want to provide her therapy and a safe home.

Is Terri receiving life support?

Not in the traditional sense. Terri only receives food and fluids via a simple tube.

Isn't removing her tube a natural and dignified way to die?

No. Dehydration and starvation cause horrific effects and are anything but peaceful.

This case hits WILLisms.com particularly closely. Our aunt Nancy faces similar health situation as Terri, following a horrific car wreck more than two decades ago now. Fortunately for her, she has a loving family, a family that protects her, cares for her, and would never purposely cause her death. While hope for a full recovery does indeed fade over time, there is always that glimmer of possibility, as science and medicine rapidly move forward.

Terri has very little hope left. A year and a half ago, the Florida legislature passed a law that allowed Governor Jeb Bush to restore Schiavo's feeding tube six days after it had been removed by her husband. That law was ruled unconstitutional.

What can you do?

You can start with these action items. Federal lawmakers may still have time to intervene to protect Terri, as well. Additionally, two issues remain alive in the Second District Court of Appeal, which said it will rule by Thursday evening.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 March 2005 11:11 AM


That so called husband/guardian is a big jerk, he is playing house with someone else and as I understand it he has been using the money provided for Terri on legal fees. Guardianship is about looking out for her needs! He is no longer interested in her needs only his own! His new family is all the more reason for his guardianship to be taken away so terri can be taken care of by her family... A LIVING WILL WAS NEVER MADE BY TERRI IN CASE OF THIS HAPPENING TO HER SO LEGALLY, THE JUDGE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DECIDE TO STARVE HER, AND DEHYDRATE HER TO DEATH!!!


I don't know how that judge and Terri's "husband"
can stand up and face the world if Terri is allowed to die in this manner.

Posted by: Linda Franklin at March 14, 2005 11:58 AM

I appreciate WILLisms.com for your input on Terri Schiavo. I only hope that starvation and dehydration will not be allowed. She did not have a living will which should make the judge's decision and her guardian's wishes for her to die this way illegal.

Isn't that what Hitler did to the mentally retarded?

Posted by: Linda Franklin at March 14, 2005 03:05 PM