Skip to comments.Legal setbacks clear way for Schiavo starvation
Posted on 08/25/2003 8:23:00 AM PDT by JustPiper
The Florida Supreme Court's refusal Friday to review the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo was the climax of a week-and-a-half of legal setbacks for the brain-damaged woman and her family, and clears the way for Terri's husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo, 39, to remove his wife's feeding tube, causing her to die by starvation and dehydration.
Probate court Judge George Greer has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 11 to set a date for discontinuation of Terri's feeding.
At an emergency hearing Thursday, Greer postponed deciding whether to allow a revered Roman Catholic priest at Terri's bedside to administer the sacraments.
As reported by WorldNetDaily, Terri was transferred early Aug. 14 from Woodside Hospice facility in Pinellas Park to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, due to an emergency medical crisis. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were not informed of the move and learned of it only when Mary Schindler made a routine, mid-afternoon phone call to the hospice to inquire about the status of her daughter.
Under Schiavo's orders, the family was not kept informed of their daughter's medical condition or prognosis for recovery. Furthermore, on Monday they learned Schiavo had barred Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, from visiting Terri at the hospital, hospice or "other venue." The monsignor has been Terri's chaplain, visiting her with her parents every Saturday for nearly three years.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler of Gulf Port, Fla., have been locked in a decade-long legal battle with their son-in-law over the care and custody of their daughter, who suffered massive brain damage when she collapsed at her home 13 years ago under unexplained circumstances, at the age of 26.
The bitter dispute over Terri's lack of care became a major euthanasia battle five years ago when Schiavo petitioned the court for permission to have his wife's feeding tube removed, claiming she is in a persistent vegetative state or PVS and would not want to be kept alive "artificially." Although Terri breathes on her own and maintains her own blood pressure, she requires a tube for nourishment and hydration. The Schindlers and a number of doctors and therapists believe she could be rehabilitated, but the courts have consistently sided with Schiavo and his lawyer, right-to-die advocate George Felos.
Upon learning of Schiavo's action towards Malanowski, the Schindlers' attorney, Patricia Anderson, filed a petition Tuesday with the probate court for an emergency motion asking that the monsignor be reinstated to the court-approved list of people Schiavo said could visit his wife. She further asked the court to uphold a 1996 order requiring Schiavo to make medical information promptly available to Terri's parents, and made a formal request to have Schiavo replaced with a court-appointed temporary guardian.
At Thursday's hearing, Deborah Bushnell, attorney for the guardianship, insisted the Schindlers had been kept informed about their daughter's medical state. She said Michael had phoned her at 9 a.m. to tell her Terri was coughing up blood and had been transferred to Morton Plant. Bushnell said she advised him to contact the hospice and order them to inform Mary Schindler whenever she made her daily phone call for information about her daughter.
She said Felos gave "more detailed information" to Anderson later that afternoon to pass on to the Schindlers, and that he updated her next day and late Tuesday in statements sent by fax. There was no communication in the intervening four days because there had been no "significant change" in Terri's condition, she said.
On Wednesday, the day following Anderson's filing of her emergency motion, Terri was transferred back to the hospice and was reportedly out of danger.
Anderson pointed out that the Schindlers had learned details of Terri's situation only after she had personally phoned Felos "pleading for information." She also said her clients still did not have any definitive information as to why their daughter was hospitalized or what happened to her.
Greer ordered Bushnell to provide the hospital's discharge summary to the parents. As of Saturday this had not been done.
As for the ban on Malanowski, Bushnell denied he was Terri's priest and declared his presence was essentially unnecessary. The main gripe against him was that he had visited the brain-damaged woman at the hospital alone Thursday night, without her parents as Schiavo required.
"It is particularly inappropriate for him to visit [Terri] unaccompanied," she said. "Any spiritual comfort provided by Father Melanowski [sic] was provided for the Schindlers' benefit, not Terri's. Mike will arrange for a Hospice chaplain who is not a witness in the prior proceedings to visit Terri if spiritual comfort is required."
Malanowski was present and prepared to respond to allegations from Schiavo's attorneys that he had "misrepresented" himself in order to gain access to Terri, but Greer refused to allow him to testify.
Bushnell took the opportunity of the hearing to detail several actions by the Schindlers and their legal team which she viewed as violations of rules set down by Schiavo and the court. She said Malanowski was not the only approved visitor to be bumped from the visitors list. Tom Brodersen, Anderson's paralegal and office manager, who is a member of the Illinois bar, was removed last year.
"[Brodersen] was told he could no longer visit because he visited Terri unaccompanied, and sat in her room for hours taking notes, apparently playing music and otherwise attempting to elicit responses from Terri," she said.
Bushnell also complained of Bob Schindler working with Terri to try and get her to talk, recording his efforts on audiotape. "It also recently came to light through an Affidavit signed by Sara Green Mele that audio tapes were recorded in November 2002 of Terri interacting with Robert Schindler," she said.
WorldNetDaily reported on Schindler's efforts and speech pathologist Mele's evaluation that Terri is an excellent candidate for rehabilitation if given speech, physical and occupation therapy.
Bushnell said, according to a March 24, 2000, court order by Judge Greer, the Schindlers were "prohibited from photographing, taking videos, or taking any other like pictorial representations of the Ward, or causing same to be taken by other persons, without prior approval of this court."
In her view, the audio recording violated "the spirit of this Order," and audio taping should be prohibited in the future along with photos and videotapes of Terri.
No decision was reached by the judge, who insisted there was no emergency and the lawyers could get together this week to discuss their next move.
Malanowski explained his reasons to WorldNetDaily for attending Terri at the hospital without her parents.
He said he first learned of Terri's situation Thursday evening, when Schindler, who had just returned from visiting her at the hospital, called to let him know.
"The first thought that came to my mind was it's an emergency," he exclaimed. "She's going to the hospital, Bob told me she had pneumonia, was bleeding internally, and had an infection in the urinary tract. To me that was an emergency, and we always respond to a hospital call right away. We go and administer the sacraments. We don't want the people to die without the sacraments. I would consider that an emergency, so I went. It was the first time I ever saw her without the parents. I'm only five blocks away from the hospital, and I thought it was important that I would go even though it was 10:15 at night to provide these sacraments for Terri."
Said Malanowski, "We automatically do it. When we get a call from a hospital we don't say, "Is she ill? Is she dying?" We just go, and that's what I did. That was Thursday night. Then Saturday at noon I met Mary and Bob and we went together. Nobody questioned us, and that's when we said our novena prayers to St. Theresa for Terry.
Pat Anderson told WorldNetDaily that at the hearing she could hardly believe she was in the United States.
"I felt like I was in another country when the judge expressed reluctance, an inability really, to recognize that cutting Terri off from the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church was an emergency and a violation of her First Amendment rights," she exclaimed. "Now this judge is Protestant and perhaps can't be counted on to understand the significance of the sacraments that Monsignor Malanowski is administering to Terri. But Terri could have a health crisis tonight or tomorrow night, and there is no Catholic priest to give her the sacraments," she added.
Bob Schindler expressed bitterness about learning of his daugher's medical condition almost by accident.
Malanowski explained to WorldNetDaily why he felt it was necessary for him to visit Terri at the hospital without her parents, saying it was the first time in over two-and-a-half years he had done so.
Is anyone else disturbed she must be starved to death? I know many here don't go along with Kevorkian, but is there not a kinder way to let people go? This saddens me, imagine how the family must feel?
This Judge is amazing .. he refuses to order tests done on her .. he refuses any therapy to help her improve her life ... he refuses to help her in any way possible .. he seems hell bent on killing this women.
I could understand if she truely was a complete vegetable and was hooked up to all kinds of tubes, but she is not .. and what this Judge has order is nothing but murder IMO
The courts refuse to consider the x-ray evidence of abuse, saying it's been too long. Course, the husband had sealed the medical records almost from day one. He also plans to have Terri's body cremated immediately after she dies, which would be perfect to hide his crimes.
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