ABC News Poll on Terri Schiavo Case Uses Inaccurate Question

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

ABC News Poll on Terri Schiavo Case Uses Inaccurate Question Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 22, 2005

Washington, DC ( — ABC News is being accused of using an inaccurate polling question to determine the attitude of Americans on the plight of Terri Schiavo, the disabled woman who is being starved to death by her estranged husband.

In a poll that has been the subject of hundreds of news reports across the country, ABC News asks respondents whether they "or oppose the decision to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube."

However, the question included a lengthy introduction that claimed, "Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible" and that Terri "has been on life support for 15 years."

However, Terri has never been on life support and breathes entirely on her own without the assistance of a ventilator.

Despite the ABC News question, dozens of doctors have filed statements supporting Terri Schiavo’s parents’ assertion that Terri is not unconscious and interacts with them on a regular basis.

In addition, Dr. William Hammesfahr, a Nobel Prize nominated neurologist who is an internationally recognized expert on cases of brain-injured patients, believes Terri has a good chance of partially recovering.

"We, and others I know, have treated many patients worse than Terri and have seen them regain independence and dignity," Hammesfahr, who has treated Terri on three occasions, said earlier this month.

In an article on the poll, WordNetDaily opined that it was no surprise the ABC News survey found more Americans support remove Terri’s feeding tube.

"Since to most people, the phrase "no consciousness" suggests a coma and "life support" suggests a ventilator or other machinery, it’s not surprising that many Americans — visualizing a comatose woman in a heart-lung machine — would consider Schiavo’s life not worth living," the online new service wrote.

Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for the National Right to Life Committee, has been following the Terri Schiavo saga closely and says the media has been thoroughly biased.

"The press has the facts wrong, they have consistently used the wrong language, and there is a repeated effort in all that you read and here in the media an urgency to sway the American people that Terri is somehow less then human," Rojas told

Related news stories:
Terri Schiavo Still Responsive Despite Three Days of Starvation

Media Bias in Terri Schiavo Case at Extreme Levels in AP, Reuters Reports

Terri Schiavo Tried to Tell Parents’ Attorney She Wanted to Live

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s parents –