Pro-Life Advocates Remember Terri Schaivo on Death Anniversary

Bioethics   Steven Ertelt   Mar 31, 2011   |   1:17PM    St. Petersburg, FL

On the anniversary of her 13-day starvation and dehydration death at the hands of her former husband, pro-life advocates are remembering Terri Schiavo and promising to help disabled patients like her.

Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America, will be speaking today at the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network’s symposium at Ave Maria School of Law. She spoke with LifeNews.com before the event, where she will touch on prenatal diagnosis and health care’s effects on special needs patients.

“We honor Terri Schiavo today, by speaking at the Medical Ethics Symposium at Ave Maria School of Law. Her fight for Life reflects the importance of caring for those with special needs, especially with end of life decisions and prenatal diagnosis,” Hawkins said. “In both cases, pro-lifers need to stand for the most defenseless among us.”

“I have seen this with my own eyes when my son Gunner was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). During my second pregnancy with my son Bear, doctors told me that I should find out if he had CF in order to prevent me from having another child that would suffer with this condition,” Hawkins added.

She continued, “Bear, thankfully, was healthy, but the pressure that mothers face for prenatal diagnosis and aborting children with special needs is tremendous as 90% of Gunner’s peers that are diagnosed with CF in the womb are aborted. That’s an astounding statistic that calls us to action. We must stand for the most defenseless among us, those with special needs in hospitals as well as those in the womb.”

Meanwhile, the staff of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group that provided help for Terri’s family during the ordeal, say they “will never forget Terri, nor will we forget her family’s valiant efforts to save her life.”

“Life Legal was privileged to assist the Schindler family in the fight for Terri’s life and as the years go by we continue to receive calls from families in similar situations,” the group told LifeNews. “LLDF board member Brian Chavez Ochoa litigated one such case on behalf of Suzanne Emrich. Ochoa filed a petition that requested the court order nutrition and hydration restored to her cousin, Janet Rivera, who for nine days was denied food and fluids.  The petition was granted, and Ms. Rivera’s life was saved.”

Some of the referrals Life Legal receives come from The Life and Hope Network, formerly the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, which Terri’s family continues to help other patients like her.

The pro-life legal group encouraged people to look ahead to potential problems by putting together legal papers to protect the medical care and treatment they want.

“It bears repeating that one of the lessons we learned from Terri’s case is that should you become incapacitated by illness or disability, the person who is your decision-maker could mean the difference between life and death,” the group said. “We encourage you to honor Terri’s memory by protecting yourself with a protective medical decision document.”

The National Right to Life Committee also remembered Terri, saying, “Six years ago today, Terri Schiavo died by court-ordered starvation & dehydration. Remember Terri and see what you can do.”

Following the symposium, Ave Maria University will host the “The National Mass for Terri’s Day” at the Ave Maria Oratory, located near Naples, FL, marking the sixth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death.

The International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters (“Terri’s Day”) was established in 2007 and is observed each year on March 31, the date of Terri’s death.

The purpose of this day is to foster education, prayer, and activism regarding discrimination against the cognitively disabled, and advocacy for people in situations similar to what Terri and her family faced. 40 Days for Life, a community-based campaign that over a period of 40 days attempts to transform individuals and communities to recognize the value and dignity of human life, will be observing “Terri’s Day” with prayer along with countless others who will be remembering Terri on this day.