Canadian Pro-Life Group Seeks Asylum for Terri Schiavo

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 28, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Pro-Life Group Seeks Asylum for Terri Schiavo

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 28, 2003

Washington, DC ( — A pro-life group headed by a leading disability rights advocate is asking the Canadian government to offer asylum to Terri Schiavo, who is scheduled to be removed from a feeding tube on Wednesday that is keeping her alive.

Human Life Matters has asked Canadian Immigration Minister Denis Coderre to grant Terri an emergency asylum in the country.

"Death by starvation is unthinkable," said Mark Pickup, the group’s founder.

Pickup has been profoundly disabled from severe multiple sclerosis, though he continues to travel North America advocating for those who are disabled and dealing with reduced medical care or familial support.

"It was the most blatant and brutal case of anti-disability discrimination … that I had ever come across," Pickup told the Edmonton Sun newspaper about Terri’s case and her parents efforts to help. "They were doing no more than I would do if it was my daughter in that position, so I said we’d try to help."

Human Life Matters has obtained the help of David Kilgour, a member of the Canadian parliament from Edmonton. He wrote Coderre requesting asylum for Terri.

Even if the Canadian government granted the asylum request, it is unlikely that Terri Schiavo could take advantage of the offer. As Terri’s guardian, Michael Schiavo would likely decide whether Terri would go to Canada or stay at the Clearwater, Florida hospice facility where she is currently living.

Given Michael’s refusal to allow rehabilitative care or Terri or for her to learn to eat and drink on her own before the gastric tube is removed, it is doubtful that Michael would consent to Terri’s transfer.

Though the chances of success are minimal, but Pickup says his group is hoping for the best.

"There are a hundred reasons why it shouldn’t be done — all bureaucratic and legal reasons — and only one reason why it should be done," the Sun newspaper quoted Pickup as saying. "And that’s because it’s the right thing to do."

Pickup said that when he spoke to Bob Schindler this weekend, "his comment to me was maybe the asylum offer is our only option now."

Sheila Zetter, a member of Human Life Matters’ board of directors is a respiratory therapist said several local doctors and therapists have volunteered to provide medical care for Terri should she be granted asylum and they will also find her a quality hospice care facility where she could live.

Related web sites:
Bob and Mary Schindler –
Human Life Matters –