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Terri Schiavo - A Different Perspective

The report of the Guardian Ad Litem, Dr. Jay Wolfson, to Governor Jeb Bush and Chief Judge of Florida's 6th Judicial Circuit via the Orlando Sentinel [PDF] is full on interesting information and presents a case somewhat dissimilar from the information swirling around the blogosphere. It's most assuredly worth a read for anyone interested in the case.

One interesting note is that as the Dr. Wolfson's term was about to expire he nearly reached a deal with Michael Schiavo, Terri's parents, and the office of the Governor for a series of test and evaluations that would have definitively reached a final conclusion with respect to Terri's ongoing medical care that placed Terri Schiavo's needs ahead of Michael's, her parents, and the State of Florida. It's really a shame that the action plan prescribed (i.e. "changing the status quo between the parties") was no followed.


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Comments (24)

Reading the GAL report is a... (Below threshold)

Reading the GAL report is a must for cutting through the hyper spun BS getting tossed around on this issue.

I'd say, based on the contents, both Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers are owed quite a few apologies from quite a lot of people.

That said, I think Terri should be allowed to pass, and I think Congress was wrong to intervene.

I do agree with people that make the point that starvation is a horrific and barbaric way to go about this - timidity from doing quickly and painlessly what's been decided as an ultimate course of action.

I do agree that it was unfortunate that the recommended COA by the GAL wasn't followed, however, I suspect a new round of tests, if they reached the same conclusion (PVS) would have mattered to the Schindlers, or many of their current supporters.

The one thing this entire situation makes absolutely crystal clear - if you don't have a living will, or at least have made your desires known about what your wishes are should you end up in a similar situation - you should take care of that ASAP.

A useful document, and I ha... (Below threshold)
Christopher Rake:

A useful document, and I haven't gotten all the way through it, but there's at least one conflict between this account (which obviously carries weight) and a well-known one at NRO by Fr. Johansen.

Wolfson:

His demanding concern for her well being and meticulous care by the nursing home [in the early years] earned him the characterization by the administrator as “a nursing home administrator’s nightmare”. It is notable that through more than thirteen years after Theresa’s collapse, she has never had a bedsore.

Johansen:

Terri has also suffered from what many professionals would regard as neglect. She had to have several teeth extracted last year because of severe decay. This decay was caused by a lack of basic dental hygiene, such as tooth-brushing. She also developed decubitus (skin) ulcers on her buttocks and thighs. These ulcers can be prevented by a simple regimen of regular turning: a basic nursing task that any certified nurse’s aide can perform. The presence of these easily preventable ulcers is a classic sign of neglect. Bob and Mary Schindler have repeatedly complained of Terri’s neglect, and have sought to remove Michael as guardian on that basis. Judge Greer was unmoved by those complaints as well.

Being allowed to pass and b... (Below threshold)

Being allowed to pass and being starved are two completely different things.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why Michael won't just let the parents take her home and take care of her. He doesn't have to give up guardenship, just allow it. She will probably die anyway, but at least in the arms of people who love her and not starving to death.

I also object to the "allow... (Below threshold)

I also object to the "allowed to pass" euphemism in this case. Not just because it's a euphemism, but because it's damned misleading. Nobody's preventing Terri for passing. If she were dying, nobody would be using heroic measures to try to save her. Thing is, she's not dying. She's perfectly healthy for a bed-bound woman with severe brain damage. She could live another forty years, if only we can be bothered to keep feeding her.

See also *<a href="... (Below threshold)
John Anderson:

See also
*post of 3/18/2005*
which links back to several other of his posts over the past two years.

Oops, that link is to "Patt... (Below threshold)
John Anderson:

Oops, that link is to "Patterico's post of..."

actually, go to his site and follow links. Especially
*CODEBLUEBLOG* "I HAVE SEEN MANY WALKING, TALKING, FAIRLY COHERENT PEOPLE WITH WORSE CEREBRAL/CORTICAL ATROPHY. THEREFORE, THIS IS IN NO WAY PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE THAT TERRI SCHIAVO'S MENTAL ABILITIES OR/OR CAPABILITIES ARE COMPLETELY ERADICATED. I CANNOT BELIEVE SUCH TESTIMONY HAS BEEN GIVEN ON THE BASIS OF THIS SCAN."

What Rightwingsparkle wrote... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What Rightwingsparkle wrote (^^).

I think what we are seeing ... (Below threshold)
Commentator:

I think what we are seeing now are opposing sides that have such contempt for each other that neither will back down.

For fucks sake, someone get... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

For fucks sake, someone get rid of the husband, so the people that REALLY love her can get back to caring for her and get this off my freaking news 24/7. Just let her live, or die in peace, and keep the govt outta my life.

Commentator, I think you ar... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Commentator, I think you are probably right.

I was wondering the whole "why didn't he just let her parents take care of her?" question, and all I can think of is that he has so much anger and bitterness that it is almost like this is hiw way to stick it to them. I am sure there is anger and bitterness coming from the Schindlers side as well.

Also, I recall reading an interview (may have been with Larry King) where he was asked the above question, and he gave about 7 sentences all about how the Schindlers had put him through Hell etc, and then the very last sentence was "because Terri would have wanted it" honestly if the last answer he comes up with is the "terri would have wanted it" then there is defintely some anger at work here.

The GAL report only proves ... (Below threshold)
Cao:

The GAL report only proves that Terri has been denied due process. Where is the lawyer representing her interests? Never had one, only guardians ad litem. Guardians ad litem generally don't have the resources ($$$) to produce the big guns kind of "experts" like Cranford, the doctor of death who has a knack for finding PVS in just about anyone.

Read the NRO article by Johansen, "Starving for a fair diagnosis".

And as for the experts hired by Terri’s parents–their testimony was discounted because they were not as pedigreed as the other experts–one was a radiologist. Good experts cost money.

Cao the other issue is that... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Cao the other issue is that she never had a consistent one. They would bring one in, he would do some interviews etc, write his report then be dismissed.

I think what is a shame is that the Florida law was struck down, because it seems as if some of the questions regarding Terri's brain damage and prognosis would have at least been answered.

And he was the first GAL that actually said she needed to have a full time GAL appointed.

For once I agree with Rob H... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

For once I agree with Rob Hackney. When Bob Schindler said that he would trade places with Terri in a heartbeat, he's a lying coward. He could have traded places with her years ago. All he had to do was off Michael, and presto, Bob then takes Terri's place. Terri goes to her mom and siblings, Bob goes to jail and gets all of the wonderful protection and federal de novo reviews that his daughter never had and never will have.

Jeb Bush is next in the line of cowards. I hope he knows he will never follow his father or brother into the Oval Office. I will make sure everyone I know is informed that they should never vote for that coward if he ever runs for President.

When I go to the cell phone... (Below threshold)
Dave A:

When I go to the cell phone store to have my new phone added onto my wife's plan, she has to be with me (or available by phone) to say it's o.k., or I have to have a durable power of attorney. If she's not available and it's not in writing, it doesn't happen.

If we can't take the spouse's word for it for cell phones, why is it o.k. to take the spouse's word for it in matters of life and death?

Yeah, Dave A, a lot of us h... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Yeah, Dave A, a lot of us have noticed certain discrepancies here...try making withdrawals from a bank by saying and only saying "because it's what my wife/husband would have wanted."

Or much of anything, it seems, except Michael Schiavo taking his wife's life.

I was solidly in the anti-M... (Below threshold)
lunacy:

I was solidly in the anti-Michael camp until I read the report above. When I got to page 14 where it discussed testimony that the Schindlers would keep Terri alive no matter what, I re-evaluated my posiition. Specifically, the following cut and pasted paragraph blew away my assumptions that the parents would want what is best for their child.

"Testimony provided by members of the Schindler family included very personal statements about their desire and intention to ensure that Theresa remain alive. Throughout the course of the litigation, deposition and trial testimony by members of the Schindler family voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs. Nearly gruesome examples were given, eliciting agreement by family members that in the event Theresa should contract diabetes and subsequent gangrene in each of her limbs, they would agree to amputate each limb, and would then, were she to be diagnosed with heart disease, perform open heart surgery. There was additional, difficult testimony that appeared to establish that despite the sad and undesirable condition of Theresa, the parents still derived joy from having her alive, even if Theresa might not be at all aware of her environment given the persistent vegetative state. Within the testimony, as part of the hypotheticals presented, Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it. Throughout this painful and difficult trial, the family acknowledged that Theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state."

If true, this is not an example of a desire for what is best for Terri. This is selfish beyond description.

Lunacy

Michael is not to be truste... (Below threshold)
Dana Waterton:

Michael is not to be trusted.

We know 50% of people divorce...and the other 50% at times want to!!!

In living wills, and power of attorney for health care, these should be given to blood family members who have a better track record in taking their 'broken' family member home with them....not leaving them in a tiny hospice room, not denying them loving touch, food, water, church, and trips outside and contact with other doctors....

I have no patience with Judges that presume to be all knowing....they need to be BALANCED BY THE EXECUTIVE AND THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES.

TERRI HAS BEEN DENIED LIFE LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS...SHE TALKED....SHE WAS UP AND ABOUT IN A WHEEL CHAIR....SHE GOT FAT AT HOME OVER 200 LBS...LOOKING AT MICHAEL'S NEW 'WIFE' WHO IS VERY THIN...MICHAEL MAY HAVE HARASSED HER TO DEATH...HAH. SOME MEN HATE FATTENED WOMEN...SOME DON'T.
TERRI, MARRIED TO MICHAEL, WAS SEPARATED FROM OTHERS SHE KNEW AND LOVED...
HE WAS VERY CONTROLLING....

JUDGES NEED TO HAVE LESS HUBRIS, IN MY VIEW...

Just me, I believe the issu... (Below threshold)
Cao:

Just me, I believe the issue is she has been denied due process. She never had her own attorney. I don't think a guardian ad litem even qualifies. It's not nearly the same. And to top it off, Judge Greer has acted simulataneously as judge on this case, and Terri's Guardian Ad Litem, which is prohibited. But who cares about the law? This is just as means to an end.

Looking at the bone scan from 1991, there is evidence of physical abuse and a neck injury, which Michael Baden and Hammersful have said indicate attempted strangulation, which also explains the brain injury.

The fact that Michael is her guardian is suspect, considering that he could be responsible for the condition she's in to begin with, and now he's lawfully (apparently) persuing that same killing agenda throught he courts, which I find appalling. DFS is investigating, but if Terri dies, what then? Would they then pursue prosecuting Michael for neglect (for refusing to give any rehabilitation to her for 15 years) and attempted murder?

The Schindlers have tried to have him removed as guardian, but the Greer Reaper wouldn't hear it. If you look at these documents, he has struck down, repeatedly, any attempt for Terri to have a fair shake in this, which is unbelievably frightening! The only medical testimony accepted is if it fits into the killing agenda.

Did Dr. Cranford, or any of the doctors testifying for Michael Schiavo, spend months evaluating Terri? No. To be fair, none of the doctors appearing for the Schindlers spent months with Terri either. But it is hardly coincidental that the doctors who spent the most time with Terri came to the conclusion that she is not PVS. The doctors brought in by the Schindlers spent approximately 14 hours examining Terri over more than two weeks; their conclusion was that Terri is not PVS, and that she may benefit from therapy.

In marked contrast, Dr. Cranford examined Terri on one occasion, for approximately 45 minutes. Another doctor for Michael Schiavo, Dr. Peter Bambikidis of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, examined Terri for about half an hour. When Dr. Bell learned of the cursory nature of these exams, he said: “You can’t do this. To make a diagnosis of PVS based on one examination is fallacious.” In Cranford’s examination, described by one witness as “brutal,” he discounted evidence under his own eyes of Terri’s responsiveness. At one point, Dr. Cranford struck Terri very hard on the forehead between her eyes. Terri recoiled and moaned, seemingly in pain. In his court testimony, Cranford dismissed the reaction and moan as a “reflex.”

The implications are far-reaching for all handicapped people, just as the Texas Futile Care Statute which robs a parent of life and death decisions in the care of a disabled infant.

Oh...response to lunacy....... (Below threshold)
Dana Waterton:

Oh...response to lunacy....

Palliative care is to protect life until it is unsupportable.

Gangrene is painful....and curable when its in early stages--quite easy to see without going to amputation. Broken bones can be set.

FOOD AND WATER ARE NOT UNUSUAL CARE....
AS A GRAD STUDENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH IT WAS VERY INTERESTING TO BE IN AN ETHICS COURSE WHERE FOOD AND WATER WAS REGARDED AS A SUPER MEASURE.

You know being without water is terrible...drying...parching. I'm not for euthanasia either, but it would be faster.

Terri could be given ice chips....Michael says no. Terri is swallowing her own saliva....why not water now?

As to the polls, no one wants to be in Terri's bed. We don't want to look at her stuggle to move, etc...but ASK THE DISABLED WHO ARE ABLE TO RECOVER AND PROTECT SOME WELLNESS...THEY SAY HELP HER LIVE....THEY SAY THEY HAVE WORTH.

Terri is not in pain...she talks....even if poorly. Should we kill people who have cerebral palsy or autism....by STARVATION....SINCE THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A CURE....CEREBRAL PALSY PATIENTS ARE KNOWN TO DIE VERY YOUNG...MANY CAN'T TALK...SHOULD WE STARVE THEM, TOO?
Judges in Florida are in the process of taking a life, not letting a life 'pass'...they're pushing with the power of a guardian behind them, who has a conflict of interest.

When Bob Schindler sa... (Below threshold)
TnTexas:

When Bob Schindler said that he would trade places with Terri in a heartbeat, he's a lying coward. He could have traded places with her years ago. All he had to do was off Michael, and presto, Bob then takes Terri's place. Terri goes to her mom and siblings, Bob goes to jail and gets all of the wonderful protection and federal de novo reviews that his daughter never had and never will have.

What kind of reasoning is this?

To Dana:You do not... (Below threshold)
Lunacy:

To Dana:

You do not KNOW that she talks. You do not KNOW that she is not in pain. Likewise, YOU don't know that she even feels pain.

Assuming your argument about gangrene is valid, how does it all square with their claim that EVEN IF Terri had said she would rather die, they would ignore her wishes?

I don't deny that the husband seems suspicious at times. At other times I think he's being terribly villified by the press and others.

I'm not advocating euthanasia or taking any other stand on this issue except that it is presumptious to think that the parents truly have her best interests at heart. If they truly would deny her wish to die, given the option, they do NOT have her interests at heart.

DID you read the pdf? The judgement was made on the basis of doctors' findings. And arguably, doctors can also have an over abundance of hubris, too!

Still, it is presumptious to claim you know the extent of Terri's mental capacity, capacity to feel pain, etc...

Unless, of course, you've examined her recently. If you have, I'd be most pleased to read your objective observations of her cognitive ability.

Lunacy

I perceive and understand t... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I perceive and understand those responses by the family of Terri Schiavo (her parents, in that example earlier, this thread) as being responses that communicate an desire and willingness to provide ongoing care for Terri Schiavo, certainly not "lunacy" as Lunacy suggests they do.

Meaning, why NOT amputate a gangrene affected limb or limbs? Because a person is mentally impaired they don't merit that type of acute medical care? Why NOT offer cardiac care for someone in those circumstances, denied for the same reasons it's suggested?

I mean, the suggestion, the assumption here, that because a person is mentally incapacitated, incapacitated of any sort, that that person should be left devoid of available medical care while able bodied persons are not, that's the real lunacy (although it wouldn't be my choice of descriptive word).

I can see that there are limits economically and medically as to what and how a person is treated for what conditions, yes, but not to denigrate the parents as displaying "lunacy" because they would respond to possible medical needs by Terri with all possible desire to see her healed and as well as possible is truly suggesting that there's no worth to Terri, sufficient to 'justify' her remaining alive.

She has as much worth as a human being as does anyone else, if these are the standards of who lives and who dies. I'm not without ability to realize that much of medicine is available at a price, but a person is not simply unworthy of wanting to be made well and trying to be so, simply becauase they lack promise or fail to meet the standards of who "should be" treated based upon fitness, according to a social standard that suggests only the already fit should remain so.

Her parents simply responded with a desire to see their child/their daughter receive all available, possible care, to seek all that they could/can on her behalf. Not the actions of lunacy but everything opposite that.

TnTexas wrote:W... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

TnTexas wrote:

What kind of reasoning is this?

Reasoning: people should say what they mean and mean what they say.

Bob and Mary Schindler said they would trade places with Terri in a heartbeat. They have had plenty of opportunities to switch places with Terri - it just so happens none of those opportunities are legal ones.

I fault Bob in particular, because a father is ordained by nature and tradition (if not God) to protect his wife and vulnerable children - even by violent means. If or when the law stops protecting your family from evil people, who then protects it? The father does, or is supposed to do so.

I know my husband would.

I direct you all to the fol... (Below threshold)
OJ:

I direct you all to the following webpage. It is written by a Florida lawyer who has detailed all the legal aspects, timeline, rulings and includes a FAQ section as well. Very informative and completely unbiased.

HT: Outside the Beltway
http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html




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