Statement of the Schindler FamilyFri Apr 1, 2005 22:0518.104.22.168Statement of the Schindler Family
Pinellas Park, FL – As you are aware, Terri is now with God and she has been released from all earthly burdens. After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity. We are speaking on behalf of our entire family this evening as we share some thoughts and messages to the world regarding our sister and the courageous battle that was waged to save her life from starvation and dehydration.
We have a message for the volunteers that have helped our family:
Thank you for all that you’ve done for our family. Thank you to the hundreds of doctors who volunteered to help Terri. Thank you to the fifty doctors who provided statements under oath to help Terri. Thank you to the lawyers who stood for Terri’s life in the courtrooms of our nation. From running our family’s website, to driving us around, to making meals, to serving in so many ways—thank you to all of the volunteers who have been so kind to our family through all of this.
We have a message for the supporters and people praying worldwide:
Please continue to pray that God gives grace to our family as we go through this very difficult time. We know that many of you never had the privilege to personally know our wonderful sister, Terri, but we assure you that you can be proud of this remarkable woman who has captured the attention of the world. Following the example of the Lord Jesus, our family abhors any violence or any threats of violence. Threatening words dishonor our faith, our family, and our sister, Terri. We would ask that all those who support our family be completely kind in their words and deeds toward others.
We have a message to the media:
We appreciate your taking Terri’s case to the nation. Please afford our family privacy to grieve at this time.The patience and graciousness of the on-site media here at hospice has been deeply appreciated by our family.
We have a message to the many government officials who tried to help Terri:
Thank you for all that you’ve done. Our family will be forever grateful to all of the outstanding public servants who have tried to save Terri.
We have a message to all of the religious leaders who tried to help Terri:
Thank you to all people of faith who demonstrated love for Terri and strength of conviction to defend the sacredness of all human life as a precious gift from God.
Our family is highly honored that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, would speak out so boldly on behalf of our sister, Terri.
We have a message of forgiveness:
Throughout this ordeal, we are reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Our family seeks forgiveness for anything that we have done in standing for Terri’s life that has not demonstrated the love and compassion required of us by our faith.
We have a message to parents worldwide:
Our family would encourage parents to spend time with their children and to cherish each and every moment of each and every day with them as a precious gift from God.
We have a message to Terri from her family:
As a member of our family unable to speak for yourself, you spoke loudly. As a member of our family unable to stand under your own power, you stood with a grace and a dignity that made your family proud. Terri, we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do. We must accept your untimely death as God’s will.
Terri, your life and legacy will continue to live on, as the nation is now awakened to the plight of thousands of voiceless people with disabilities that were previously unnoticed. Your family intends to stand up for the other “Terri’s” around this nation and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won’t face the same fate that has befallen you.
We have a final thought to share:
Our family had hoped this day would never come, but as it has now arrived, we ask ourselves a question in these incredibly sad circumstances: What would the Lord Jesus ask us to do in a moment like this? In John’s Gospel, Jesus responded to the questions of the rabbis, who asked why a man had been born blind. He said: “it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him.”
God’s plan for Terri is unfolding before our eyes. Our prayer at this time is that our Nation will remember the plight of persons with disabilities and commit within our hearts to defend their lives and their dignity for many generations to come.
Terri died on March 31, 2005 at 9:05 AM ET
Visit Terri's site: www.terrisfight.org
Cheryl Ford, RN (Fight4Terri@aol.com ) is not affiliated with any other group and works as an independent volunteer promoting the protection of Florida's disabled community.
7 lessons from the Schiavo case
By Cory Franklin and Barry M. Rosenbloom. Cory Franklin is a physician at Stroger Hospital. Barry M. Rosenbloom is an attorney in Buffalo Grove
Published April 1, 2005
Terri Schiavo died Thursday after the most publicly litigated termination-of-treatment case in American history. Any of us could face her fate or that of her relatives. Those of us who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and, as the Schiavo case will likely demonstrate, even those of us who do learn from history are usually condemned to repeat it. Here are seven lessons from the Schiavo case that we should pay close attention to:
1. The right of self-determination is the deciding principle in terminating health-care treatment. Our country has established self-determination, not the right to life or right to die, as the overriding principle in guiding health-care professionals and the judiciary. This emanates from 1914 when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo wrote, "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has the right to determine what shall be done with his own body."
Because Terri Schiavo could not exercise this right, her case was litigated ad infinitum to determine if, in the past, she had expressed a wish for self-determination. One may suspect her husband of being a cad, or impugn the motives of her parents and her advocates, but court transcripts demonstrate that several adversarial hearings found credible evidence--from more than one source--that Schiavo didn't want the health-care measures she ultimately received. Those dissatisfied with the decision may dispute the process, facts or conclusion, but undermining the principle of self-determination would be inconsistent with the established precedent and could create far greater problems in future cases.
2. The law resolves disputes; it does not guarantee satisfying results. The Schiavo legal machinations, however, probably left many wondering how the system created the Stephen King-like scenario that forced parents to watch helplessly as their child starved to death. Even the most steadfast American Civil Liberties Union member, with any degree of intellectual honesty, must find sympathy for Schiavo's parents. The Schiavo case demonstrates the vagaries and vicissitudes of a legal system that occasionally leaves us unsatisfied and, in cases like this, tragically so. Charles Dickens expressed it best: "The law is an ass."
3. The importance of advance directives. Hopefully, more people will express their end-of-life wishes in writing. The Schiavo case speaks to the advantage of obtaining a power of attorney for health care (known as a durable power of attorney for health care) over a living will. While a living will outlines a patient's preferences, a durable-power document improves on that by identifying surrogates to represent the patient in cases of ambiguity. If Terri Schiavo had named a durable power of attorney, she would have never become a headline.
4. Doctors offer estimates, not certainties. Where the public demands certainty, the medical profession should tread warily. The medical consensus was that Schiavo wouldn't recover from her persistent vegetative state. Prominent neurologists stated confidently that there were no documented cases of recovery from patients in a prolonged vegetative state. Yet, in 1997, the British Medical Journal reported that a young man, crushed during a stampede at a soccer match, lapsed into a persistent vegetative state and, after eight years, recovered. The point is not that Schiavo would have recovered--doctors called the English case "the exception that shouldn't make the rule"--but how uncertainty develops.
Further medical opinion, backed by extensive medical literature, indicated that Schiavo didn't respond to external stimuli and wouldn't suffer if nutrition was terminated. However, the relevant medical literature is simply experts' best interpretation of data--these findings can never be validated by talking to the subjects. Data aren't facts, facts aren't truth, truth isn't wisdom. Doctors who use the terms "always" or "never" and offer certainty without qualification imperil the profession's credibility. A little humility is in order.
5. The 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision on Cruzan vs. Director, Missouri Department of Health should go down as one of the best decisions ever by the Rehnquist court. The court ruled that the family of Nancy Cruzan, a patient in a persistent vegetative state, couldn't simply discontinue her feeding tube. It ruled that Cruzan's home state, Missouri, could require a specific standard of consent before permitting the termination of nutrition and hydration. The case was remanded back to a Missouri state court that found Cruzan's previous oral wishes did meet the required burden of proof and her feeding tube was discontinued. The case became a cornerstone in upholding Terri Schiavo's right to self-determination. In retrospect, the Cruzan decision, which allowed states to set standards for termination of care, stood the test of time.
6. Politicians, commentators, physicians and lawyers with bedside political agendas do the public no favors. This applies to the opportunism of right-to-life and right-to-die advocates. Republicans pandering to their conservative base and Democratic gibing at President Bush and Congress are equally odious. These tragic issues are better addressed by evolving medical facts, legal doctrines and ethical precepts than by political agendas.
7. Television can be a trove of misinformation. Encumbered by time constraints, poor background research, uninformed interviewers and agenda-driven experts, television did a fairly miserable job explaining the Schiavo case to the public. With the exception of reporting the actual events, television barraged the public with misinformation and half-truths. As comedian Ernie Kovacs said, "Television, a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well-done."
Patients like Terri Schiavo represent the most vulnerable in our society. As health-care institutions become increasingly impersonal and driven by cost containment, protecting these patients demands especial effort. That effort will be part of Schiavo's final legacy.
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