by Steven Ertelt
September 22, 2005
Minneapolis, MN (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates are protesting a conference in Minnesota featuring Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband and a renown euthanasia advocate who was one of his spokesmen. Both will address a euthanasia conference at the Hennepin County Medical Center titled, "33 Years of Clinical Ethics in Minnesota: Ron Cranford’s Stories of Heroes and Courage."
Neither Schiavo nor Cranford are strangers to those who oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Cranford became an international euthanasia advocate during his 34 year career at the medical center and, during the national controversy over Terri, he became a spokesman for her estranged husband, the man who eventually killed her.
The conference will be one of the first occasions in which Schiavo has spoken out publicly since taking his wife’s life in late March.
He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he agreed to speak at the conference because Cranford is "a very close family friend" who helped him during the years-long legal battle with Terri’s family.
"He’s a great man," Schiavo said of his medical and personal advisor who assisted many families in taking patient’s lives by denying them lifesaving medical treatment.
While organized to celebrate Cranford’s euthanasia achievements, pro-life advocate Brian Gibson has a different perspective.
"Ron Cranford is trying to make heroes out of people who have done some really evil things," Gibson, executive director of the Pro-Life Action Ministries, told the Tribune. "The whole conference needs to be opposed. It’s a morbid and sadistic thing they’re promoting."
Cranford admits he "never had any background in ethics or the law" when he was asked, in the 1970s, to serve on the hospital’s ethics committee. That was his springboard to international notoriety.
One of the first cases he was involved with concerned a 40 year-old paraplegic with a rare degenerative disease. By the time he reviewed her case, she was a quadriplegic and wanted off of a respirator.
"It seemed like the most logical thing to do was to abide by her wishes," he told the Tribune.
Doctors turned off the respirator and gave the woman painkillers. She entered into a coma and died.
However, Cranford admits now "that was probably illegal" and calls the case "ethically dubious, because nobody had ever done this before."
Pro-life advocates fault Cranford for helping Schiavo kill his wife, with whom he no longer had a relationship because he was living with another woman and had children with her.
"We believe what happened to her was immoral," Brother Paul O’Donnell of St. Paul, a spiritual adviser to Terri Schiavo’s parents, told the newspaper. "It’s morally unacceptable to deliberately withhold food and water to cause [her] death."