Terri Schiavo’s Father Robert Schindler Dies, Pro-Life Group Mourns His Death
by Steven Ertelt
August 29, 2009
St. Petersburg, FL (LifeNews.com) — Robert Schindler, the father of Terri Schiavo, whose former husband subjected her to a painful 13-day starvation and dehydration death, died overnight. Schindler, 72, had been battling health issues and he died of apparent heart failure.
In the aftermath of Terri’s euthanasia death, Robert Schindler started a foundation with the rest of his family to help other disabled patients.
The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation would connect patients or their families to legal help, physicians and pro-life groups who would speak out on their behalf to obtain basic medical care or lifesaving medical treatment denied to them by the government, hospitals or family members.
In February, Schindler pleaded with the father of Eluana Englaro not to give up on his daughter’s recovery.
"Although we come from two different continents with different cultures, we do have many things in common. We both are fathers and we both have been gifted by the same God with children," Schindler wrote to Beppino Englaro.
"We both have a child that suffered severe brain injuries. I know very well the profound effect this type of injury can have on our loved one and their families. We both have experienced the same misfortune and hardships," he added.
Schindler’s heart figuratively broke when both state and federal courts denied his family’s attempts to provide care for his daughter as her estranged husband Michael Schiavo sought her death.
Bioethics watchdog Wesley J. Smith noted that in his remarks upon hearing the news.
"His health was broken by the ordeal of trying to save his daughters life and he never fully recovered from the horror of watching her dehydrate to death," Smith said. "The family is grieving."
The National Right to Life Committee, which worked very closely with the Schindler family to save their daughter and which continues to support their work, sent a statement to LifeNews.com after learning of Schindler’s death.
Wanda Franz, the president of the pro-life group called Schindler a good friend and said it "joined with pro-lifers nationwide in mourning the passing of our dear friend Robert Schindler."
Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend, Franz said. "His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne."
"Despite facing legal setbacks at virtually every turn, the Schindlers, with their children at their side, fought unceasingly to defend the right of their daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo, to receive food and fluids," Franz explained.
She thanked Robert and his family for "advocating for other medically dependent and disabled patients facing similar circumstances."
In 2007, the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund honored the Schindler family with the Proudly Pro-Life Award for their dedication and public witness to the cause of life.
David O’Steen, the executive director of NRLC, told LifeNews.com: In life, Bob, and his wife Mary, never sought the spotlight. They only wished to care for their beloved daughter, Terri. Through their selfless dedication to Terri, they showed the nation and the world what it means when someone says they are pro-life.’"
The sadness Schindler felt at losing his daughter was evident in the letter to Englaro’s father.
"From the time my daughter Terri suffered her brain trauma, I made a commitment to her to get her proper treatment. I failed. I unsuccessfully fought the courts and her husband to have input in her treatment and to bring her home. That didn’t happen and today I grieve my failure because it resulted in her death," Schindler added.
"My family and I grieve the loss of Terri. I particularly grieve the method in which she was put to death. She died of starvation and dehydration," Schindler said.
But he turned that sadness into action as he and the rest of the Schindler family, including son Bobby Schindler and daughter Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, both took the rains of the foundation.
Robert also became a passionate crusader against the growing view that the disabled are a burden to society or their health care and treatment should be rationing.
From the letter to Englaro’s father, Schindler wrote: "This type of death is cruel and barbaric. Advocates of euthanasia will tell you to starve and dehydrate a brain injured individual is painless. As a witness to this type of execution I can say this is not true. It is by far the most painful death a person can experience. That is why this is always done in strict privacy void of any witnesses or cameras."
Schindler died knowing the love of God and with a strong faith as a member of the Catholic Church — a faith he expressed to Beppino.
"God gave you and I the responsibility to instill morals in our children and to keep them out of harm’s way. To starve and dehydrate your daughter is far from Gods wishes." he said.
Condolences and donations for the Foundation can be sent to: Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, 5562 Central Avenue, Suite 2, St. Petersburg, FL, 33707.
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