(Lifenews.com) – Every year, I write to honor my sister, Terri Schiavo, on March 31st, the anniversary of her death. For those who do not remember, Terri, at the age of 26, experienced a still inexplicable collapse resulting in a severe brain injury. Terri’s case and condition continue to be inaccurately reported. For example, reports falsely suggesting Terri variously had a terminal condition, needed “machines,” was in a coma, or even was outright “brain dead” are all incorrect.
Sadly, after a few years of caring for Terri, Michael Schiavo, who was Terri’s husband and guardian, lost interest, and eventually petitioned the courts for permission to deliberately starve and dehydrate her to death by having her feeding tube removed. Due to her brain injury, she was unable to swallow using conventional utensils, and like many Americans required nutrition and hydration by feeding tube in order to live.
Another false description of Terri was that this sort of food and water constituted “life support,” when in fact she was lively and stable, and simply required food and water in the same way that any of us do. Nonetheless, by the order of Judge George W. Greer, Terri was deprived of water and food for more than 13 days. She died on March 31, 2005 of intentionally caused extreme dehydration.
In response to Terri’s death, my family established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network to advocate for medically vulnerable persons, accessing families to resources they need to fight in their time of crisis. Too often, medically vulnerable persons and their families and advocates are confronted with having their basic care denied, as a rising “quality- of-life” mentality continues to influence the sort care they receive.
Indeed, if we look just this past year, you will see the progress of those who are advancing a “death-with-dignity” worldview, and that it ought to be our right to choose death. This view mistakes “dignity” for describing essentially “How independent I am”, rather than recognizing the principle that dignity is fundamental, innate, and not conditional based on our changing life circumstances. In addition to this, it is now legal in every U.S. state to deny a patient food and water, as in Terri’s situation, as the erosion of a patient’s right to receive proper care progresses. CONTINUE