Former Terri Schiavo Legal Advocate: New Medical Exam Needed

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Former Terri Schiavo Legal Advocate: New Medical Exam Needed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 26, 2005

Clearwater, FL ( — A former court-appointed legal advocate for Terri Schiavo says that a new medical examination is needed to put to rest the years-long battle over whether Terri has any chance of recovering from her disabilities should she be given the medical care and rehabilitation she’s been denied for a decade.

University of South Florida professor Jay Wolfson told the Associated Press that, before any tests are conducted, both Terri’s parents and her estranged husband Michael must agree to drop their ongoing legal battle.

"There is so much at stake here, not just for Terri, but for the issue," Wolfson said.

"If we were serious about addressing this, we would say, ‘What are the interests of the parties and how can we use science, medicine and good law to take away from the clouding factors in this case?’ " he told AP.

Barbara Weller, an attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler told AP that conducting such tests with truly impartial people would be a considerable challenge.

"The problem is finding truly neutral doctors," Weller said.

Attorneys for Michael made a similar offer as recently as the end of 2004, but the Schindlers were hesitant to accept it because doctors have been so staunchly divided on whether Terri can recover.

Doctors for Michael claim Terri is in a persistent vegetative state and the Schindlers’ medical experts say Terri is responsive, interacts with family, and has a good chance of improving her condition.

Wolfson was appointed to be Terri’s guardian ad litem for two months during the latter half of 2003.

Charged with evaluating Terri’s condition at that time, Wolfson an attorney who serves as the director of health policy information at USF, claimed Terri is in a persistent vegetative state. He also said that she deserved to be given a swallowing test to see if she can eat and drink on her own before a decision is made to remove her feeding tube another time.

A local judge ruled against reappointing Wolfson for another stint as Terri’s guardian.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush hoped a second term for Wolfson would allow him to investigate what happened on the night Terri collapsed. A brain scan shows possible trauma and Terri’s family has been unable to get anyone to investigate whether or not Michael may have abused Terri.

Terri has never had a full time legal representative or an attorney on her behalf during the decade that the legal fight has occurred.

That’s a point of contention for the Schindlers, who say that the decision to remove her feeding tube should be reversed, in part, because of it.

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s family –