April 1, 2009
Terri Schiavo's right-to-die case pitted a husband against her family, doctors against judges, and religion against modern medicine. Ave Maria University hosted "The National Mass for Terri's Day" on Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of Schiavo's death.
Four years after the St. Petersburg woman's death, the debate has not died.
Ave Maria University hosted "The National Mass for Terri's Day" on Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of Schiavo's death. Her brother, Bobby Schindler, spoke about the original anger he and others felt, a feeling God had abandoned them. As the months and years progress, that sentiment changed to one of understanding Schiavo's condition invigorated people who are against euthanasia.
"God is using Terri to impact the world in a very special way," said Schindler, who now heads a foundation created in his sister's name.
Schiavo collapsed Feb. 25, 1990, at the age of 26. She was in a persistent vegetative state when her husband, Michael, petitioned to withdraw life support, saying his wife would never recover and would not want to be kept indefinitely on life support. Schiavo did not have a living will, leaving others to debate her wishes.
The battle to keep Schiavo alive started in the hospital room and moved to the court room, later progressing to the Legislature, governor's office, U.S. Supreme Court, Capitol Hill, White House and eventually the Vatican.
The courts ultimately sided with Michael Schiavo. Terri Schindler Schiavo died March 31, 2005, from severe dehydration after her feeding tubes were pulled. An autopsy later revealed Schiavo suffered massive and irreversible brain damage, and also was blind.
The Rev. Frank Pavone, director of the national organization Priests for Life, was with Schiavo’s family in her final days. Sitting just inches from her bedside at the hospice were flowers, he said, soaking up water Schiavo was not permitted to drink. Children, Pavone said, were arrested for trying to bring bottles of water to a dying Schiavo.