Terri Schiavo Family Honored, Pro-Life Group Worries About Disabled Patients

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 3, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Family Honored, Pro-Life Group Worries About Disabled Patients

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 3,

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — As pro-life advocates gathered in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night to honor the family of Terri Schiavo for their diligence in protecting her life, a leading pro-life group says its worried that other disabled people may see their medical care and treatment revoked as well.

Leaders in the pro-life community gathered last night at the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington to honor the Schindler family at the 14th annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner.

Robert and Mary Schindler, Bobby Schindler, and Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo received the Proudly Pro-Life Award for their struggle to save their daughter and sister.

Also, s ince Terri’s death, they have founded a group working to save other medically dependent and disabled patients, like Terri, from death by starvation and dehydration.

"We applaud the work of the Schindler family and their Foundation in attempting to help those most in need," National Right to Life President Wanda Franz, said at the gala event.

"Through their efforts to reach out to families with disabled and elderly members in need of help, we believe that the culture of life can be encouraged and nurtured amid the wreckage caused by the current culture of death," Franz added.

The court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler Schiavo gained national and international attention, and served as a springboard for efforts to encourage people to have advance directives concerning their healthcare.

However, a report by National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics finds that in only eleven states are medical personnel required to follow the treatment preferences set forth in a patient’s advance directive.

The report, originally issued in April 2005, and updated in May 2007, found that in most states, if patients wish to receive life-saving medical treatment – or even food and fluids – there is no guarantee that their wishes will be honored, even if they are made clear in a valid advance directive.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that when they or their families make the choice for food, fluids, or life support, those wishes should be respected – despite the contrary view of doctors who may think the patient’s "quality of life" too poor.

A nationwide survey by RT Strategies, conducted in February, found that by a margin of 75% to 10% the public believes that when a seriously ill patient’s family wants life support for the patient, their wishes should be followed even though the doctor thinks the patient’s "quality of life" is too low to merit food and fluids.

"It is alarming that, despite overwhelming public sentiment, nearly four-fifths of the states do not clearly protect a person’s right to choose food, fluids, or life-preserving medical treatment," Burke Balch, J.D., director of the Powell Center, told LifeNews.com.

"While we continue to stress the importance of filling out an advance directive like the Will to Live, it is equally important to continue to work for legal reform so that if a person chooses life-saving medical treatment, that choice is respected," he added.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org
Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation – https://www.terrisfight.org