Cultural Revolutions

The Battle Over Terri

Michael Schiavo has decided that his wife’s life is without merit.  Since her collapse in 1990, he has worked to free himself from the burden of caring for the one he vowed to love in sickness and in health.  After she awakened from a brief coma, Terri Schiavo’s condition improved slightly, and, though unable to move or speak, she remains alert and responsive to the kindness of friends, family, and medical staff.  She breathes on her own, without the aid of a respirator.  Nonetheless, since 1991, Michael has, according to Terri’s parents, refused to obtain “meaningful therapy” for her that might improve her condition.

In 1993, Michael, as Terri’s legal guardian, had doctors post a “do not resuscitate” order in her chart, and, when she contracted a life-threatening infection, he insisted that doctors withhold treatment.  This prompted Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to petition a Florida court to have guardianship transferred to them.  In early 1994, the case was dismissed.  A similar incident occurred in 1995.

As early as May 1997, one month before he announced his engagement to girlfriend Jodi Centonze, Michael was able to secure a judge’s approval to remove Terri’s feeding tubes.  This prompted a six-year court battle between Michael and the Schindlers (both the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme...

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