In 2005, Arizona Right to Life sponsored an evening with Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, who is now working full-time for the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation. The Phoenix event drew hundreds of people and included an introduction by Fr. Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life.
The evening was important because it called attention to the secular mindset that led to the acceptance of Terri Schiavo's death and set a vision for reversing laws that devalue the disabled and equate nutrition and hydration to medical treatment.
Bobby Schindler spoke passionately and with emotional charge, still carrying the pain and grief that followed the public dehydration of his sister and yet describing his hope and vision for the future.
In light of the upcoming two year anniversary of Terri's death, we are republishing this post containing the first portion Bobby Schindler's address. Of course, 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
"Inasmuch as you have done it for the least of My brothers, you have done it unto Me."
Tragically, after an exhausting twelve year struggle to bring Terri home, my sister died on March 31, 2005. A United States Court ordered the removal of her feeding tube that was supplying the most basic necessity, food and water. Please make no mistake, this was a court ordered murder issued by Circuit Court Judge George Greer. Terri's life ended after two weeks of suffering without food or water and without receiving ice chips to help ease some of the pain she was experiencing.
To explain all of the complexities of my sister's case would be impossible in the short time I have here this evening. However I would like to cover several issues involving my family's battle to save Terri, the organization behind this movement, and in particular, how it has now become relatively simple to kill persons with disabilities; those receiving their food and water via a feeding tube.
First, I would like to tell you a little bit about my family. My father, Robert Schindler, grew up in Philadelphia. After he went to college and took classes studying to be a designer/draftsman, he worked for a short time town in Corning, New York for the Corning Glass Company. There he met my mother, Mary. They wed in January of 1963 and lived in a suburb of Philadelphia.
In December of that year, Terri was born. Thirteen months later, I was born, and in April of 1968 my little sister, Suzanne was born.
My family lived in a suburb of Philadelphia. I remember my upbringing as being very normal and, looking back on it now, it was a very happy time for me. I also remember that there were always cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents visiting all the time, and the holidays were always my favorite times of the year. Our family was and remains extremely close.
Terri met and married Michael Schiavo, in 1984, and by 1987 my entire family, including Michael and Terri, were living in St. Petersburg Florida.
Terri and I were especially close growing up, and when we moved to Florida, because of Michael's work schedule, Terri and I spent an increasing amount of time together. In fact, I often tell the story how people would see us together so often, they would think we were a married couple.
Terri was a beautiful woman and had an especially memorable sense of humor and was as gullible as anyone could be. You could tell her almost anything and she would always believe you. And when she found out you were joking, she would be the one laughing the hardest. Terri was also very caring, having a tremendous amount of compassion for others, and in particular animals. I also remember how much it meant to Terri to visit our grandmother, who was in a nursing home almost every day of the week without ever complaining how inconvenient the ride was from where she lived.
On February 25, 1990, Terri collapsed under mysterious circumstances. Incidentally, the reason for her collapse has never been specifically identified, and sadly it doesn't look as if we are going to find out what or who is responsible for Terri's initial injury.
Many of you might not realize that my family began our battle to save Terri in 1993, and since 1997, when we first learned that Michael Schiavo was going to try and remove Terri's feeding tube, my family has doing everything in our power to stop him from using his power as Terri's guardian to have her starved and dehydrated to death.
As you are probably aware, throughout this battle, the media has played a major role in Terri's situation. And pretty much since the beginning, the media has repeatedly distorted facts, omitted key details and failed to verify statements by Michael Schiavo and his attorney. The press consistently wrote that this was a right-to-die case and that Michael Schiavo was acting in the best interest of Terri, something that is absolutely untrue.
However most alarming is how the media continues to use their influence to persuade the apathetic public that involuntary euthanasia should be permitted, dangerously advancing the viewpoint of this pro-death movement that has taken hold of our country.
Let me take a few moments to highlight some of the facts about Terri's situation some of which were covered by the media, but most were rarely, if ever reported by the mainstream secular press.
As I said, on Feb. 25, 1990 Terri collapsed
- Terri never wrote a living will.
- Michael Schiavo was Terri's legal guardian and had 100% control as far as any of the decisions concerning Terri care or well-being.
- Terri was supported only by a feeding tube, nothing else. Terri could breathe on her own, and had no machinery hooked up to her. Other than my sister's brain damage, she was a physically healthy young woman. In fact, all my sister needed was a wheel chair and she could have been transported anywhere if her husband authorized permission for Terri to do so.
- In 1992, Michael Schiavo initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against Terri's doctors.
- During the 1992 malpractice trail Michael Schiavo recited his wedding vows, testifying that he loved Terri and wanted to care for her the rest of his life. There was no mention of Terri ever having an alleged verbal death wish.
- As a result of the 1992 trial, based in large part on Michael Schiavo's testimony, the jury awarded 1.2 million dollars for Terri's lifelong care and rehabilitation and close to a half-a-million dollars to Michael personally.
- Since the 1992 medical malpractice trial, and contrary to what Michael testified what he intended to do with the money he was asking for, Terri was sentenced to her bed abandoned by her husband receiving no therapy or any simple rehabilitation for over 13 years
- In 1993, Michael Schiavo made his first of two attempted to kill Terri by refusing to treat an infection that would have resulted in her death if the nursing home where she was residing did not intervene to stop him from doing it. He tried again in 1995. (Incidentally, Michael is the inheritor of Terri's Trust fund, and if Terri would have died Michael would have inherited Terri's trust fund, which at the time was close to 1 million dollars).
- Sometime in 1995, my family learns that Michael Schiavo is cohabitation with another woman.
- In 1997, seven years after Terri collapsed, and after Michael Schiavo announced that he intended to marry his live in girlfriend, Michael suddenly remembers that Terri wouldn't want to live disabled, and subsequently petitioned to courts to allow him to remove her feeding tube. By the way, Michael Schiavo, fathers two children with this woman.
- At the January 2000 trial to remove Terri's feeding tube, Terri's best friend at work and I both testified that Terri wanted to divorce Michael Schiavo just prior to her collapse and that Terri and Michael had a horrible argument the night she collapsed.
- Terri never told her family or close friends that she didn't want food and water to live if she ever became mentally ill. The only contradictory testimony came from Michael; his brother, and his sister in-law.
- In early 2000, Terri was moved from a nursing home to a local Hospice facility where Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, was the chairman of the board for several years. Terri was admitted in spite of the fact that Hospice is for patients that have less than six months to live. Terri was there for five years until her death this past March.
- Michael Schiavo has denied permission for flowers delivered to Terri from her family and friends and pictures of my relatives and Terri's friends have been removed from Terri's room.
- We had to first ask permission from Michael Schiavo to play certain music CD's to Terri, he will almost always deny my family's request.
- Michael was able to remove anyone from visitor list at his own discretion, which he did.
- My mother was reprimanded for applying lip-gloss to Terri.
- Five teeth had to be removed in April 2004 because of the fact that Terri's teeth have been neglected and not cleaned since 1995.
- My sister Suzanne and I were barred for six months because we tried to spoon feed Terri and we were told that we would be arrested if we tried to feed her again.
- My family was barred from seeing Terri for over 50 days based on false accusations from Michael attorney that my parents were trying to harm Terri.
- Nurses would check Terri before my family would leave to make sure that we aren't accused of harming her.
- By court order, no pictures or videos were allowed to be taken of Terri and the Judge gave Michael Schiavo copyright protection on any future pictures or videos taken of Terri.
- Just a few months before Terri's death, we had to battle Michael Schiavo because the nurses informed my family that Michael had ordered that Terri must have her shades shut at all times, preventing any sunlight from entering her room and also preventing Terri from looking outside.
- Michael Schiavo denied the continuous requests that my family be allowed to take Terri outside into the sunshine. When Terri died in her Hospice bed, she had not been outside in over five years.
- During Terri's 13 day starvation death, Michael Schiavo and his attorney denied Terri communion all but one time, and Monsignor Malnowski was told that he would be arrested immediately by the police guarding Terri if he attempted to give Terri communion.
- During Terri's 13 day starvation death, Clearwater Police had to clear my family at three different check points and searched us with metal detectors before we can enter the room to visit Terri. And once we were in the room visiting with Terri, Michael ordered that there be at least one policeman in the room with us at all times, and at least sometimes two policemen standing outside Terri's room.
- Just moments before Terri's death, Michael Schiavo ordered my sister Suzanne, Father Pavone and myself to leave the room.
- When my sister did pass away Michael Schiavo ordered Hospice official to have three armed policeman surrounding Terri's bed while my family prayed and said our final goodbyes.
Related: The Schindlers describe in much greater detail the events leading to Terri's death in A Life that Matters.