Terri Schiavo’s Parents: Starvation Ruling Based on Faulty Assumptions

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Parents: Starvation Ruling Based on Faulty Assumptions

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 3, 2005

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — On Wednesday, Terri Schiavo’s parents filed a motion seeking to overturn the 2000 ruling allowing Terri’s estranged husband Michael to starve her to death. They have been fighting the ruling ever since and now say that the judge should have taken more stock in a conversation Terri had about a woman in a similar condition.

Bob and Mary Schindler say their daughter engaged in a conversation before her 1990 collapse about Karen Ann Quinlan, a woman who previously drew the nation’s attention to the issue of euthanasia.

Quinlan’s parents waged a battle to remove her from life support in 1976 after an overdose. They won a court order to remove her from a respirator, but she did not die until 1985.

Circuit Court Judge George Greer based his starvation ruling on testimony from Michael that Terri allegedly had a conversation with him in which she expressed her desire to be removed from artificial life support if she were ever incapacitated.

However, Diane Meyer, a friend of Terri’s, previously told the court Schiavo was upset that Quinlan’s parents chose to end the life of their daughter.

Meyer said she joked to Terri in the summer of 1982 after seeing a movie about Quinlan’s story on television. Meyer told the court the joke was in bad taste and it upset Terri.

Meyer said Schiavo told her "she did not approve of what happened. What the parents are doing" to Quinlan, transcripts state.

"Where there is life, there is hope," Terri told her friend.

In his 2000 ruling, Judge Greer said he thought Meyer’s testimony was not credible because she described the conversation in the present tense and his says it raised questions about when the conversation occurred.

"The court is mystified as to how these present tense verbs would have been used some six years after the death of Karen Ann Quinlin [sic]," he wrote.

David Gibbs, the lead attorney for the Schindlers, asked Greer Wednesday to hold a new trial on the matter and to void his 2000 ruling. Gibbs said Judge Greer discounted the testimony because he wrongly believed Quinlan died in 1982.

"Critical evidence was discounted by the court," Gibbs told the Springfield Times newspaper. "If this was a death penalty case, we would have a new sentencing and we would get a new trial. We believe this is huge."

George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael’s lead attorney, dismissed the request. He told the Times it was insignificant and not worthy of revisiting.

Though Terri is not on artificial life support and has always been able to breathe on her own. Michael insists that he be able to disconnect a feeding tube that provides her with food and water.

Judge Greer has scheduled a date of March 18 for Michael to begin the week-long starvation process.