DISABILITIES

By Daniel J. Vance

 

  A national medical expert, twelve doctors, at least eight disability rights groups, and her parents all say Terri Schindler-Schiavo, 39, of St. Petersburg, Florida, is alive and should remain alive. Of the opinion she is in a "persistent vegetative state" and should die are her husband, a "right-to-die" attorney, a handful of doctors, and a few Florida judges.

  If by August 25 the Florida Supreme Court declines to hear the case, a lower Florida court ruling to pull Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube prevails. She likely would die.

  But not if Terri's father Bob Schindler can help it. "Terri can track objects by moving her head and eyes," he said over the telephone last week from his Florida home. "Her husband stopped all therapy ten years ago. If she had physical therapy [her condition] would be different. She tries to communicate, but we can't distinguish her words. Though I have no training, I worked with her nearly a month. It would get to the point that I would say something and she'd respond."

  The news website WorldNetDaily has followed Terri Schindler-Schiavo's case nearly a year. In a recent article they reported that she breathes, sees, swallows, makes noises, moves her limbs, and maintains a heartbeat on her own. But she does have a feeding tube. An accident at home in February 1990 left her severely brain damaged.

  "People in general have to be aware of what is happening," Schindler added. "And Terri's is not an isolated situation. [Situations like hers are] happening in different parts of the country. It's like a cancerous growth, the idea that people like Terri are unfit for society."

  WorldNetDaily reported that husband Michael Schiavo rests on his claim that pre-accident Terri once told him that she would not want to be kept alive artificially. The Schindlers say such a statement of hers would have been out of character. Since 1998 Florida judges so far have sided with Michael.

  The eight disability rights groups filing "friend of the court" briefs include the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and HalfthePlanet Foundation. "They view this as a threat to disabled people," Schindler said.

  The Schindlers now have a website www.terrisfight.org that has recent audio and video of Terri. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is being petitioned. But time is running out: should her feeding tube get pulled August 25, Terri could be dead by September 10.

  Contact Mr. Vance through www.danieljvance.com