Fast forward to six years ago here in the United States, on March 30th, 2005, when Terri Schiavo died from court-ordered dehydration and starvation. Many, including the major media claimed, that death by dehydration and starvation is painless. Here are just a few quotes from our friends for Life, the New York Times: "They generally slip into a peaceful coma. It's very quiet, it's very dignified, it's very gentle." The victims of the "Starvation Bunkers" in the Nazi death camps would vehemently disagree. They often went mad, screaming and cursing and drinking their own urine due to the excruciating effects caused by dying of thirst. And, if starvation is so peaceful and dignified, why are all the tearjerkers constantly concerned about the plight of famine victims? And in fact, if Terri Schiavo was not experiencing pain during her ordeal, why do court records reveal she received morphine?
The actual facts regarding her medical condition and it's causes are largely misunderstood. Terri was not terminally ill, nor was she brain-dead. She did not die a natural death from an illness or a disease. She was in fact, a young woman who suffered brain damage, the extent of which still remains unknown. Because of her disability, she was denied ordinary, necessary and available care - mainly her food and hydration. It's not exactly clear what caused Terri to collapse on February 25,1990. What is clear, is that the oxygen supply to her brain was cut off, leaving her permanently
We know the denial of food and hydration is a biologically final act; no one lives without them. The Nazi's certainly knew this. Therefore, the decision to remove her food and hydration and allow her to die, was in fact, euthanasia. An interesting fact is that Michael Schiavo,Terri's husband, received $700,000 for her ongoing medical care, from a malpractice suit, filed by Michael after Terri's collapse. This same jury also awarded Michael $300,000 for loss of companionship. In fact, Michael never used the $700,000 for Terri's medical care; instead he spent it on the legal fees to petition the court to remove her life support. He further refused antibiotics for any infection she might develop, or for any rehabilitation or physical therapy.
Interesting enough,Terri was not on a ventilator or any other high-tech life support system. Food and water were considered her only life support. Terri's parents were vehemently opposed to Michael and the court's decision to remove her food and hydration. In fact, they offered to assume full responsibility for their daughter. The battle over her care wound it's way through the court systems, and on February 11, 2000, a Judge Greer ruled, that in spite of no written advance directive wishing to forgo life support, her husband Michael could order all food and fluids withheld from Terri. Her parents appealed and a long legal case ensued.
The outcome, on March 8, 2005, in spite of every legal effort, the court ordered removal of her feeding tube and a ban on oral nutrition and hydration. Her hospital room became a starvation bunker. Thirteen days later Terri died. It was a slow cruel death. In a culture of death, law is divorced from humanity, and we are all victimized in the process.