This the third post in a four part series containing the full-text of a speech given by Bobby Schindler to an audience in Phoenix, AZ sponsored by Arizona Right to Life. These details and much more can be read by simply ordering a copy A Life that Matters.
- Part I - Terri Schiavo's Life and Death
What the doctors in the pro-death health care industry needed to do was create a diagnosis that they could use to make it legal to kill patients with profound brain damage that were thought of by doctors to have a quality of life not worth caring for.
As I mentioned along with some evidence of a declaration by the patient, they also must be determined to be in a PVS condition [for their nutrition and hydration to be withheld].
I need to go back for moment to how the euthanasia movement evolved these past twenty years. What the doctors in the pro-death health care industry needed to do was create a diagnosis that they could use to make it legal to kill patients with profound brain damage that were thought of by doctors to have a quality of life not worth caring for. Thus, the PVS diagnosis was created, and because of its inherent subjectivity, it is a very dangerous diagnosis. But this is precisely what they intended in order to make it legal to kill.
However, more needed to be done. Once the PVS diagnosis was established in the medical community, it became the impetus for pro-euthanasia attorneys and lobbyists to find state legislatures willing to change the laws to enable the courts to make it legal to kill the disabled.
Finally, the PVS diagnosis had to be accepted by the public, which is how the mainstream press fits into this equation. It was their job to make certain that the PVS stamp on persons became common and acceptable language within our culture. And in my opinion, society is taking a monumental shift towards this acceptance of a quality of life [litmus test]. It is why Mr. Felos made the statement that I read earlier admitting that ten of thousands have been killed this way. It is because we are now looking at people with disabilities, deemed unworthy to live (like my sister), as the decisive factor whether that person should live or die, and unbeknownst to us all it is happening everyday.
All you have to do is look at the case of my sister. The PVS diagnosis became the battlefield in the courts and with the public deciding whether Terri should live or die. If she was in PVS kill her, if she wasn’t let her live. And then read how the media had a feeding frenzy when Terri’s autopsy report came out, trying to justify her death because of this diagnosis. It really is crazy.
According to Florida Law and most state laws, to be diagnosed in a PVS condition, the patient must have no purposeful interaction with his or her environment.
For example, in October 2002, our family was granted a trial to look further into Terri’s ability to respond and interact. In front of Judge Greer, five doctors testified to the medical condition of Terri. During this week-long trial, I sat and listened to five doctors and each one of the doctors gave five different medical interpretations of what they described as PVS, with two of the doctors adamant that Terri was not in PVS. As I said, it is so extremely subjective that if you wanted to you could almost describe anyone that is unable to communicate as being in PVS.
What is hardly mentioned by the media is that a recent medical research British study has proven that the PVS diagnosis is misdiagnosed almost 50% of the time, particularly in the early stages of a traumatic brain injury. And with the progress taking place in the medical field especially in the area of adult stem cell research patients with closed brain injuries similar to my sisters are having better chances of improving everyday.
And all you have to do is look at the videos or her and our accounts of when we visited Terri to know that she was very much alive and interacting at some level with us every time we would visit her.
Sadly, the PVS diagnosis continues today to be the driving force behind the health care industry, because as I’ve said, in the court of public opinion this confusing and deceptive diagnosis has been accepted and is most of the public’s way to determine whether someone should live or die.
And looking back when my family began our fight to save Terri’s life, one of the biggest traps that my family fell into, and I think many of the pro-life organizations are also doing, is –arguing-- whether someone is in a PVS state or not. Why should the mental condition of someone who has brain damage matter at all.
In fact, something I’ve notice that is happening with more and more frequency, and is more evidence of how things have gotten so distorted – if you speak out against starving people like my sister to death, YOU will be the one criticized as not having any compassion.
Most of the country has no idea or they are just apathetic in regards to how much our nation is under attack and is being controlled by much of the mainstream secular media and how their influence is eroding the morality of our society. And in the case of euthanasia -- indoctrinating the public into believing that a certain class of people have an inadequate quality of life and therefore it is ‘okay’ to let them die.
Here are just a couple of examples:
The headline in a paper in Minnesota the day after the autopsy report was released read, “Schiavo’s autopsy says damage was irreversible”. During Terri Schiavo’s final days, when her supporters said she was alert, responsive and trying to speak, she was massively and irreversibly brain-damaged, blind and oblivious to what surrounded her, a medical examiners finding revealed Wednesday.First of all, all brain damage is irreversible. Additionally, why is does the extent of my sister’s brain damage have anything to do with whether it was right to take away her food and water. How do we measure the brain damage of human being so that when the an unacceptable level is reached the act of purposely putting them to death becomes morally justified? Well, not only does the media continue to report that the killing of my sister was justified, some have had the audacity to ask that my family apologize to Michael Schiavo.
And if you don’t think if continues today, this appeared in a Winston Salem Newspaper:
“As a respected heart and lung surgeon and researcher, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ought to carry considerable clout when he weighs in on the politics of health care and science. He jeopardized his influence earlier this year when he participated in the shameful interference into the Terri Schiavo case, questioning her doctors' findings that she was in a permanent vegetative state after he watched a videotape and took a cursory look at her records. Later, Schiavo's autopsy confirmed that her doctors had been right. Frist had tarnished his credibility to please the Republican right wing.”But this is precisely how these death groups continue to succeed, they hammer away at this quality of life mentality establishing a criteria for condition for when it is permissible to starve human beings to death. In reality, what is being done is the creation of a separate class of people whether it’s PVS, coma, disabled, whatever affliction someone might have, and that their lives are considered less worthy to live, and more worthy of dying.
And if you don’t think there is a calculated effort to make this way of thinking into the hearts and minds of our future doctors, attorneys, our future leaders of our nation, let me read you the following. This probably disturbed more to learn this then anything I’ve recently read in regards to this death movement.
In an article called, “Teaching Euthanasia” appearing in the June 2005 issue crisis magazine, the author of the article, Patrick J. Reilly, writes the following:
“The brief filed last August by 55 bioethicists urged the Florida Supreme Court to OVERTURN “Terri’s Law,” the measure passed by the state legislature to empower Gov. Jeb Bush to protect Schiavo’s life. Among the ethicists signing the brief were six Catholic university professors.”Mr. Reilly goes on to say, “But what was most striking and unusual about the brief was its direct challenge to Pope John Paul II’s teaching on the obligatory use of feeding tubes for seriously ill patients in a “persistent vegetative state”.
One of the six that signed the brief supporting the death of my sister was a Catholic priest, Father John Paris of Boston College.
In reaction to the Pope’s statement concerning feeding tubes, Father Paris in an interview with the St. Petersburg Time (my favorite paper to read every morning) said,
“I think the best thing to do is ignore it and it will go away. It’s not an authoritative teaching statement. The problem here is that non-Catholics think when the Pope says ‘Jump’, we all say ‘How high?’”Father Paris went on to say in a separate interview with Salon.com that,
“The Schiavo case was really about “the power of the Christian right. The family (that would be me) has the radical, antiabortion, right-to-life, Christian right, with its apparently unlimited resources and political muscle, behind them.”In September of 2004, Terri’s Law was in fact determined to be unconstitutional and the attorney for Governor Bush commented on the potential ramifications of the Florida Supreme Court striking down Terri’s law, and how our society is shifting to a quality of life standard.
“If the court authorizes the death by starvation and dehydration of Terri Schiavo having failed to afford her the kinds of protection that she should otherwise have received than anybody else who suffers from disability or handicap who cant speak for themselves who has a family or relatives who stands to gain by their death who cost more to maintain then they produce they’re very must at risk going forward this will represent a seismic shift from a sanctity of life ethic to simply a quality of life ethic.”Mr. Connor continued,
“we are living in a culture where the sanctity of life ethic is being eroded and we begin to look at the net worth an individual based on cost/benefit ratio and if we all live long enough the day will come when we are old and perhaps infirmed where we no longer are generating an income, but it’s a cost to maintain our life in existence.”
Mr. Connor finished by saying,
“Florida has many, many people that live in nursing homes, what are the implications for these people going forward into the future are we going to respect and protect their lives and treat them as human being created in God’s image or are we going to say well you know their quality of life just doesn’t measure up, their functional capacity is diminished and so is their human dignity -- out to the garbage with them.”And when I hear people say that what they are doing to people like my sister is nothing like what happened in Nazi Germany, I want to ask them to explain to me the difference, because it seems to me that there is none.
What is this difference between what happened just 60 years ago and what is presently happening? More egregious, is that today, we are starving human with the blessing of the doctors, the courts and the media.
And what is the difference between starving my sister to death and those we prosecute for doing the same to a loved one. It seems that we have become rather selective in our outrage when it comes to starving people to death.
This past April 2004, in Pittsburgh Pa., prosecutors, laid first-degree murder charges against Kimberly Loebig for allegedly starving her disabled brother to death. She now faces life in prison, or the death penalty, if found guilty.
In October of 2004, California when a woman by the name of Delores Johnson was sentenced to 29 years - to life in prison for the starvation death of her autistic brother, Eric Bland.
November 2004, James Tatar was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole of first-degree murder in the starvation death of his 4-year-old daughter, Kristen. Prosecutors said the girl was tied down in an attic and not fed for several days before she died.
The removal of the feeding tubes will produce precisely the same outcomes as all these starvation cases I just mentioned.
However, when someone forcibly starves and dehydrates a defenseless person to their untimely death, we are shocked and appalled at the lack of humanity and we become hopeful that the heaviest sentence the legal system can muster will be applied to the offender.
Yet, when a judge rubber-stamps the very same, because a human being has irreversible brain damage, we turn our heads in utter apathy.
How is it that a simple piece of paper and ink signed by a judge - magically transforms the experience of dehydration and starvation into something that is legal, and as these death groups proclaim, a ‘peaceful’ and ‘painless’ death result?
Unfortunately, when we have leaders demonstrating no leadership turning their backs on people like Terri, we can understand why our society is facing a situation that could lead to the mass killings similar to the numbers we are seeing with abortion. And is why there have been some in the legal community comparing Terri’s case as the Roe vs. Wade of Euthanasia.
Next Section: Part IV - Terri Schiavo: Finding the Answers
Related: The Schindlers describe in much greater detail the events leading to Terri's death in A Life that Matters.