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Terri Schiavo

Terri SchiavoAKA Theresa Marie Schindler

Born: 3-Dec-1963
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Died: 31-Mar-2005
Location of death: Pinellas Park, FL [1]
Cause of death: Euthanasia
Remains: Cremated, Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park, Clearwater, FL

Gender: Female
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Victim

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Human vegetable, 1990-2005

Terri Schiavo entered a vegetative state in 1990 for undetermined reasons, possibly related to her long-term, untreated bulimia. In this persistent vegetative state she remained the last fifteen years of her life. Both Schiavo's doctors and her court-appointed doctors expressed the opinion that there existed no hope of rehabilitation. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, contended that it was his wife's wish that she not be kept alive through unnatural, mechanical means.

More than twenty times the Schiavo case was heard in Florida courts. On all occasions the court ruled that Terri's fate was under her husband's control, respecting the sanctity of marriage. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, refused to accept this verdict, feeling that their daughter would somehow recover. Of this struggle, Schiavo's attorney George Felos told the US District Court, "The real grievance is not they [the Schindlers] did not have a day in court, that they did not have due process. The real grievance is they disagree with the result."[2]

In 2003, a court-appointed guardian for Schiavo wrote that during the protracted legal struggle, her parents had "voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs", even if that required amputation of her limbs. "As part of the hypothetical presented", the guardian's report stated, "Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it."

Politicians inserted themselves into the fray. The case was the catalyst for Florida's controversial "Terri's Law", which gave Gov. Jeb Bush the authority to have Schiavo's feeding tube re-inserted when a court ruled that her husband could have it removed. The U.S. Congress quickly passed legislation allowing federal courts to intervene, and President George W. Bush flew back to Washington to sign the bill into law. It should be noted that this is the same George W. Bush who, as Governor of Texas, signed into state law the power of hospitals to remove a patient (in identical situations as Terri's) from life support -- a critical factor being the family's ability to pay the hospital bills -- even if such removal was against the family's objections.[3]

Schiavo's feeding tube was finally removed on March 18, 2005, and she passed away 13 days later.

In a final postscript to Schiavo's life, the autopsy conducted after her death established that her brain weighed half that of a healthy human brain -- severe damage that left her blind and incapable of thought or emotion. Quoting the medical examiner: "This damage was irreversible. No amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."[4]

[1] Hospice Woodside, Pinellas Park, FL.

[2] Rick Klein, "High Court Rejects Case on Schiavo", The Boston Globe, 25 March 2005.

[3] Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999 ("Texas Futile Care Law"), codified as Chapter 166 of the Texas Health & Safety Code.

[4] Abby Goodnough, "Schiavo Autopsy Says Brain, Withered, Was Untreatable", The New York Times, 16 June 2005.

Father: Bob Schindler (d. 2009)
Mother: Mary
Brother: Bobby Schindler
Sister: Suzanne Carr (stockbroker)
Michael Schiavo (m. 10-Nov-1984)

    High School: Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, Warminster, PA
    University: Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA

    Coma 25-Feb-1990, several weeks
    Heart Attack
    Died Intestate
    Risk Factors: Bulimia, Blindness

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