Terri Schiavo Guardian Report Discusses Failed Mediation Attempt

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Guardian Report Discusses Failed Mediation Attempt

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 3, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — Buried in a report filed by a law professor appointed to evaluate Terri Schiavo’s medical and legal situation is an account of an attempt at mediation. Dr. Jay Wolfson worked to get Michael Schiavo, Governor Jeb Bush and Terri’s family to come to an agreement that would have provided a possible out-of-court resolution.

However, the talks failed and now Michael Schiavo’s attorney disagrees about the serious of the mediation attempt in the first place.

On Tuesday, Wolfson, a Stetson University law and health professor, filed a report to Governor Jeb Bush claiming Terri Schiavo has no chance of recovery, but adding that she should be allowed to take a swallowing test to determine if she can eat and drink on her own.

Wolfson also said the legal battle surrounding Terri’s life could continue for months or years unless both sides agree to resolve their differences outside of court.

In his report, Wolfson says he attempted to mediate the situation on his own and claims the parties were close to an agreement.

"During the final days of investigation, an agreement … was sculpted," Wolfson writes. "Elements of this platform were acceptable and there was preliminary and contingent agreement in principle to the intent and much of the content of the drafts."

However, Wolfson said the talks broke down and agreement went bust Sunday night, on the eve of the due date for filing his report with Bush.

Under the proposed agreement, Wolfson would have chosen "neutral clinical specialists to make a formal determination about the feasibility and value of swallowing tests and therapy." Another team would "make a formal determination about neurological capacity and prognosis."

The identities of the members of each medial team would be kept confidential to avoid accusations of bias from either party.

Terri’s father, Bob Schindler, said his son, Bob Schindler, Jr., suggested the mediation effort with the hope of establishing that Terri could recover and should receive proper medical and rehabilitative care that was stopped years ago.

"Our objective has always been the same, to get her some kind of treatment," Schindler told Knight Ridder Tribune.

However, George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who is serving as Michael’s attorney, says Michael Schiavo never agreed to anything like what Wolfson suggests was discussed.

Felos says Michael, throughout the process, claimed Terri’s Law was unconstitutional and, therefore, so was Wolfson’s appointment as an independent guardian.

"We don’t want to participate in settlement negotiations suggested by the guardian ad litem because we don’t agree that his appointment was proper,” Felos told the Tampa Tribune newspaper.

Yet Wolfson writes that "all three parties … actively participated in the [mediation] process."

Regardless of how the mediation process unfolded, both sides agree the court battle will definitely continue.

Related web sites:
Wolfson’s report
Governor Bush’s statement on Wolfson’s report