New Terri Schiavo Documentary Gives Facts Media Distorted in Euthanasia Death

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Terri Schiavo Documentary Gives Facts Media Distorted in Euthanasia Death

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 13
, 2009

St. Petersburg, FL ( — A new documentary about the life and death of Terri Schiavo presents facts that the mainstream media distorted. Schiavo was killed in a painful starvation and dehydration euthanasia death over the course of nearly two weeks when her former husband won a court order to kill her.

Though the media maintained the disabled woman was in a persistent vegetative state experts say she was in a minimally conscious state and her family indicated she repeatedly interacted with them.

Now, Franklin Springs Family Media has put out a newly-released documentary called The Terri Schiavo Story that it says provides previously unexplored facts of the case through in-depth interviews with participants in the saga.

The documentary is hosted by author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, who became personally involved in the case in 2005 and is herself disabled because of a diving accident.

So what did the mainstream media overlook? Several things, according to the film’s producer and director Ken Carpenter.

"I think most people thought Terri was in a vegetative state with no prospects of improving," he told "The truth is, the doctors believed Terri was a candidate for rehabilitation, but her husband withheld that treatment."

"Additionally, we uncovered that only one judge ruled on the facts of the case. All the other judges looked at procedure issues and not the original facts," he added.

Carpenter says the documentary is needed to keep the facts of the case alive and to help people understand the lessens that need to be learned.

"Working on this project made clear to me that we need to keep Terri’s story alive. Our children need to know where the lines were drawn when our government and court system let Terri die," he said.

Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, was interviewed at length in the documentary and is now involved in helping families in similar circumstances through The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.

He believes the truth about his sister’s death has been distorted and hidden by the mainstream media.

"Our hope is that people will learn the truth about what happened to Terri and realize the atrocity that it was and that anyone who claims that her death was ‘peaceful’ and ‘painless’ is lying. It is because of the truly inhumane nature of death by dehydration that when people are killed this way it is always done behind closed doors in the strictest secrecy," he says.

"I wholeheartedly believe that if the public had been allowed to witness Terri’s suffering first hand, the outcry would have deafened Florida and the world," he adds.

Tada, who became a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair and unable to use her hands following her accident, says what happened to Terri continues to affect disabled citizens.

"The story remains relevant because there are countless people like Terri Schiavo whose lives are in grave danger because of unclear custody and guardianship laws," says Tada. "Plus, more states (under futile care policy directives) are quietly removing the feeding tubes from brain-injured people when families abandon their responsibilities. Feeding tubes are providing basic care, not medical treatment."

"I hope that people understand that Terri Schiavo’s story is really our story," she continues.

She concludes: "We have a special obligation to protect the weak and vulnerable in our society. We have a responsibility to uphold their human dignity — because we are of equal dignity, we are not at each other’s disposal. The weak and the vulnerable need their rights safeguarded and protected… we must not allow them to become eroded. For when we do, we are jeopardizing the rights of us all."

Originally produced as an episode for the Joni & Friends television series, Franklin Springs Family Media felt the story was compelling enough to produce as a stand-alone project.

The documentary recently won the Jubliee Award for Best Documentary at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

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