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March 19, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Starving for a Fair Diagnosis

Excerpted from “Starving for a Fair Diagnosis” by Reverend Robert Johansen, National Review Online:

Terri Schiavo lies in a Florida hospice, subject to a judge’s order that will cause her to die of starvation and dehydration commencing this Friday, March 18, at 1:00 P.M. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought for over a decade to prevent her death. They have repeatedly gone to court in their efforts to stop Terri’s husband, Michael, from removing the tube that provides her with food and water.

The court battle has gone largely against the Schindlers. Last week, Pinellas County Circuit Court judge George Greer issued a steady stream of rulings denying almost every motion the Schindlers raised. He denied some of them summarily, without hearing arguments or evidence. Among the motions Judge Greer denied was a request for new testing and examination of Terri by independent and qualified specialists. David Gibbs, attorney for the Schindlers, submitted 33 affidavits from doctors and other medical professionals contending that Terri’s condition should be reevaluated. About 15 of these affidavits are from board-certified neurologists. Some of these doctors also say that Terri could benefit from therapy. Judge Greer was unmoved.

Many people believe that Terri Schiavo has had “the best of care,” and that everything has been tried by way of rehabilitation. This belief is false. In fact, Terri has had no attempts at therapy or rehabilitation since 1992, and very little had been done up to that point. Terri has not even had the physical therapy most doctors would regard as normative for someone in her condition. The result is that Terri suffers from severe muscle contractures, which have caused her body to become contorted. Physical therapy could remedy this, but husband Michael has refused to provide it.

Terri has also suffered from what many professionals would regard as neglect. She had to have several teeth extracted last year because of severe decay. This decay was caused by a lack of basic dental hygiene, such as tooth-brushing. She also developed decubitus (skin) ulcers on her buttocks and thighs. These ulcers can be prevented by a simple regimen of regular turning: a basic nursing task that any certified nurse’s aide can perform. The presence of these easily preventable ulcers is a classic sign of neglect. Bob and Mary Schindler have repeatedly complained of Terri’s neglect, and have sought to remove Michael as guardian on that basis. Judge Greer was unmoved by those complaints as well.

Posted by Danny Carlton at March 19, 2005 06:31 AM

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