National Disability Groups Back Terri Schiavo’s Parents

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 29, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

National Disability Groups Back Terri Schiavo’s Parents

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 29, 2003

Washington, DC ( — On Tuesday, eighteen disability rights organizations released a joint statement backing Bob and Mary Schindler in the ongoing lawsuit to save Terri Schiavo’s life.

If Terri’s feeding tube is removed, she will have been killed because she is not being given the Constitutional protections the rest of us enjoy, the groups say.

"Treating people differently based on health or disability status violates the rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the rights that all people should be assured by the U.S. Constitution" said Jim Ward, President of ADA Watch, a Washington-based group which protects the civil rights of people with disabilities

Ward says medical care, including food and nutrition, should not be withheld from Terri because she signed no advanced directive indicating that is her preference.

The organizations included Not Dead Yet, the Hospice Patients Alliance, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, and many others.

The statement takes Terri’s husband Michael to task, saying he "conveniently remembered Terri’s alleged wishes only after the malpractice judgment was awarded."

"A review of court records shows that of the $700,000 from a malpractice settlement Michael won that was to go for her care, over half has been spent on his legal fight to disconnect her feeding tube," the groups indicated.

Despite Terri’s severe disabilities, the organizations say she has a right to rehabilitative care. Her life, they say, is not devalued and no one has the right to make a judgment as to whose quality of life is better than another person’s.

"We know that life with a disability is worth living," the groups said in the statement, "and we know something we find appalling is the attitude of ‘better off dead’ — an opinion that drives much of the thinking surrounding people like Terri Schindler-Schiavo."

Related web sites:
Disability groups’ statement –
Bob and Mary Schindler –