Pavone: Politicians’ Stance on Schiavo Outrageous


Document Publication: North Country Gazette - Chestertown, NY

Publication Date: November 06, 2007

Two and half years ago, Terri Schindler Schiavo died as a result of the long, painful and barbaric process of the court-ordered execution by starvation when her estranged husband Michael Schiavo removed her feeding tube which provided her nutrition and hydration.

Now, the Republican presidential candidates are expressing opposition to the Congressional review in the Schiavo case, and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, who is apparently courting Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, one of the biggest obstructionists to justice in the Schiavo case, has taken his acting to new levels, clearly showing he flipflops to endorse whatever position he thinks will rank highest in the court of public opinion.

First Thompson claimed he didn’t remember anything about the Schiavo case, now he’s trying to claim he can equate with it due to the death of his daughter following a drug overdose.  He’s trying to compare apples to oranges and his dishonesty in the Schiavo case is exactly why the nation shouldn’t elect him as President.

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, is speaking out about the politicians’ stance in the Schiavo case on You Tube.  “Some of our politicians are saying that Congress should not have gotten involved…….shouldn’t have been at the bedside of Terri Schiavo, interfering in the medical decisions of her family,  this is completely outrageous”, Pavone says.  He says politicians need to learn the facts of the Schiavo case before they make such statements.

“These politicians don’t know the first thing about what happened to Terri….It wasn’t a matter of medical decisions made in the privacy of the family’s own home.  This was killing somebody.  This was killing the disabled.  Terri wasn’t dying, she didn’t need medical treatment.  Terri was starved, dehydrated to death.  And politicians are saying this isn’t the business of the government?

“Politicians need to protect the disabled, they need to rethink the purpose of government”, Fr. Pavone says.

Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother, says he believes that Republican candidates don’t understand his sister’s case and aren’t fully informed.  “There obviously exists a lot of confusion about my sister’s situation”.

The disabled Florida woman had committed no crime, she just received food and water in an alternative manner than the norm. Judge George Greer, a probate court judge, one of the lowest rungs on the judicial ladder, even refused to allow that Terri be given food and water by natural means after the feeding tube had been removed. Florida Statutes specifically prohibit anyone from denying an individual food and water.  Many called it court-sanctioned murder and it has set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country allowing family members or guardians who believe an individual can no longer be productive in society to simply get a court order to end their life.

In what was called the Palm Sunday Compromise, the U.S. House passed a bill 203-58 that transferred jurisdiction of the Schiavo case to a U.S. District Court for a federal judge to review. A total of 47 Democrats joined 156 Republicans in voting for the bill. The Senate approved the bill by voice vote.

The bill sought to protect the constitutional rights of a disabled person and was designed to allow a de novo review of the Schiavo case, to reinsert her feeding tube until a new, impartial and thorough review of the case could be heard, much like a habeas corpus proceeding in a criminal case.   In signing the bill, President Bush said it would “allow Federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life”.

“In cases like this one”, the President said, “where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life”.

“When a person’s intentions regarding whether to receive lifesaving treatment are unclear, the responsibility of a compassionate nation is to affirm that person’s right to life,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. “In our deeds and public actions, we must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life.”

Compassion has suddenly become a dirty word in our Republic as the media and others are trying to make the Schiavo case a piranha  in the 2008 presidential campaign.  The Republicans didn’t exploit Terri Schiavo.  Michael Schiavo did and the public and media as well as some politicos seem to forget that the Senate vote to save the life of the brain damaged woman, or at least take a fair, honest and impartial look at the medical and legal decisions made in the case, was unanimous. 

Democrats as well as Republicans in the Senate voted for the case to have a de novo review in federal court.

Fr. Pavone became a familiar figure in the court-ordered dehydration of Terri Schiavo.  He was one of the few people who was on Terri’s visitors’ list and therefore able to access her room. He appeared frequently in the media on the family’s behalf during the ordeal. Following Terri’s passing, Fr. Pavone was blunt in his description of her final hours as “an agony unlike anything I have ever seen” and has since not backed down from his characterization of her death as murder.

Fr. Pavone had witnessed Terri’s final hours at her bedside and in a letter to Michael Schiavo, following her passing, he reiterated his previous statement that Michael Schiavo is a murderer and called on him to “embrace a life of repentance” and to seek forgiveness.“Some have demanded that I apologize to you for calling you a murderer” the priest wrote. “Not only will I not apologize, I will repeat it again. Your decision to have Terri dehydrated to death was a decision to kill her”.

In his open letter to Michael Schiavo on the first anniversary of Terri’s death, Pavone said “A year ago this week, I stood by the bedside of the woman you married and promised to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health. She was enduring a very bad time, because she hadn’t been given food or drink in nearly two weeks. And you were the one insisting that she continue to be deprived of food and water, right up to her death. I watched her face for hours on end, right up to moments before her last breath. Her death was not peaceful, nor was it beautiful. If you saw her too, and noticed what her eyes were doing, you know that to describe her last agony as peaceful is a lie. “This week, tens of millions of Americans will remember those agonizing days last year, and will scratch their heads trying to figure out why you didn’t simply let Terri’s mom, dad, and siblings take care of her, as they were willing to do. They offered you, again and again, the option to simply let them care for Terri, without asking anything of you. But you refused and continued to insist that Terri’s feeding be stopped. She had no terminal illness. She was simply a disabled woman who needed extra care that you weren’t willing to give.

“I speak to you on behalf of the tens of millions of Americans who still wonder why. I speak to you to express their anger, their dismay, their outraged astonishment at your behavior in the midst of this tragedy. Most people will wonder about these questions in silence, but as one of only a few people who were eyewitnesses to Terri’s dehydration, I have to speak.

“I have spoken to you before, not in person, but through mass media. Before Terri’s feeding tube was removed for the last time, I appealed to you with respect, asking you not to continue on the road you were pursuing, urging you to reconsider your decisions, in the light of the damage you were doing. I invited you to talk. But you did not respond.

“Then, after Terri died, I called her death a killing, and I called you a murderer because you knew — as we all did — that ceasing to feed Terri would kill her. We watched, but you had the power to save her. Her life was in your hands, but you threw it away, with the willing cooperation of attorneys and judges who were as heartless as you were. Some have demanded that I apologize to you for calling you a murderer. Not only will I not apologize, I will repeat it again. Your decision to have Terri dehydrated to death was a decision to kill her. It doesn’t matter if Judge Greer said it was legal. No judge, no court, no power on earth can legitimize what you did. It makes no difference if what you did was legal in the eyes of men; it was murder in the eyes of God and of millions of your fellow Americans and countless more around the world. You are the one who owes all of us an apology.

“Your actions offend us. Not only have you killed Terri and deeply wounded her family, but you have disgraced our nation, betrayed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and undermined the principles that hold us together as a civilized society. You have offended those who struggle on a daily basis to care for loved ones who are dying, and who sometimes have to make the very legitimate decision to discontinue futile treatment. You have offended them by trying to confuse Terri’s circumstances with theirs. Terri’s case was not one of judging treatment to be worthless — which is sometimes the case; rather, it was about judging a life to be worthless, which is never the case.

“You have made your mark on history, but sadly, it is an ugly stain. In the name of millions around the world, I call on you to embrace a life of repentance, and to ask forgiveness from the Lord, who holds the lives of each of us in His hands”.

Terri’s parents, Mary and Robert Schindler Sr., brother Bobby and sister Suzanne battled Michael Schiavo in court for nearly 10 years, arguing that she was not in a persistent vegetative state as Greer had decreed. Her family, who knew her the best, said she would not want to die in such a manner.  Although Congress passed a bill that Palm Sunday two years ago and President Bush quickly signed it into law that should have granted Terri’s family a de novo review of their case in the federal courts, there was no de novo review. The legislative intent of the bill was for the feeding tube to be reinserted while the matter was reviewed in the federal courts. However, the courts refused to grant an injunction to stop Greer’s death order and the family did not receive the full review of the case in the court as Congress and the President intended. 

The parents repeatedly met with defeat in the courts in their efforts to save their daughter’s life. Michael Schiavo said that she would not want to live by artificial means. However, Terri’s demonstrated will to live strongly dispelled that assertion and was grounds by itself for the reinsertion of the tube.

The tube’s removal resulted in a slow, agonizing death by dehydration over 13 days while the whole world watched, horrified that such a cruel and unusual punishment could occur in our free Republic—sanctioned, endorsed and yes, ordered by the courts—against a person who had done no wrong, who was a victim of the system and maybe of her husband.  Michael Schiavo destroyed every semblance of not only Terri’s right to privacy but her family’s by taking the matter into court initially in 1998.

Suzanne said her sister had “shown the world what perseverance and determination are all about.”

The euthanasia cult needed a guinea pig to set the stage to rid society of what they perceive are burdens to the system of Social Security, to Medicare and Medicaid. Terri Schindler-Schiavo was a test case-a foundation for the culture of death to rid society of escalating health care costs and the ever rising related costs by eliminating society of the disabled, the elderly and those who “strain” the system….those who become burdens on their families. Not all families in today’s society are as loving and caring as the Schindlers.

“Terri unwittingly became a worldwide celebrity for right-to-life causes of disabled persons. “She showed us how to live. She showed us the gift of life and how we should share it,” said Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski who gave Terri her last rites.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 • Email: