Disability Advocates Saddened by Terri Schiavo’s Scheduled Starvation

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 28, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Disability Advocates Saddened by Terri Schiavo’s Scheduled Starvation Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 28, 2005

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — Disability rights advocates are distressed by Friday’s decision by Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who scheduled a March 18 date for Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael to starve her to death.

"This is not simply a court order removing a judicial stay and allowing the guardian to proceed as he sees fit," said Diane Coleman, President of Not Dead Yet. "This is an order of execution."

Coleman’s organization has been joined by sixteen other national disability rights groups in filing amicus briefs during various parts of the legal battle between Michael and Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler.

The groups support Terri’s right to food and water delivered to her through a gastric tube. Although Terri uses the tube to receive nutrition, she is able to breathe on her own and requires no artificial respiration.

Coleman says her group is worried that the Terri Schiavo case will set a precedent for how courts and doctors treat disabled patients.

She points to a recent scientific journal article in Neurology calling into question previous methods for diagnosing persistent vegetative state (PVS). The article says the "simple bedside examinations" done by some doctors in Terri’s case are "now proven to result in inaccurate diagnoses of PVS in 30 to 43% of cases."

"The previous testimony of medical experts on either side of the controversy is insufficient to justify the Court’s rulings that Terri Schiavo is unconscious," Coleman says.

Stephen Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet, says the battle to save Terri has "broader implications" for disabled, elderly and terminally ill patients.

"You read a lot about the problems faced by overburdened caregivers these days. Senior and disability advocates are fighting a political battle for more in-home support services to address that, but in the meantime, meaningful protections against guardian abuse and neglect are needed," Drake explained.

Not Dead Yet calls for a moratorium on the starvation and dehydration of all people diagnosed in PVS, unless they have an advance directive, until such new diagnostic procedures are followed.

Related web sites:
Not Dead Yet – https://www.notdeadyet.org