Obama regrets not speaking up for Terri Schiavo

10 years later, debate over her life and death lingers

Tom Howell Jr.

Document Publication: The Washington Times - Washington, DC

Publication Date: March 30, 2015

The Rev. Frank Pavone, a pro-life leader, was one of the few able to visit Terri Schiavo in the final days of her life 10 years ago as she lay in a hospital bed, fixed to a feeding tube, the subject of an intense national debate over euthanasia.

As Schiavo's husband pushed to remove the feeding tube, Congress rushed to legislate and then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sought a court order to keep her alive, Father Pavone was in her hospital room.

"She responded to my prayers, to my voice," said Father Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "I saw that with my own eyes."

Schiavo died March 31, 2005, of starvation and dehydration after her husband Michael won his court battle and removed the feeding tube.

Today, Father Pavone thinks people have misconstrued the fallout from her highly publicized ordeal as a debate over the pros and cons of certain medical treatments, while he sees it as a question of life itself and when a body ceases to function.

"The question with Terri was, 'Is there worthless life?'" he said.

Schiavo's ordeal began in 1990, when she collapsed from cardiac arrest at home at the age of 26 and went into a persistent vegetative state. Her husband insisted she would not have wanted to be kept alive on a machine if she could not be rehabilitated; her parents and brother sought to keep her alive and take care of her, regardless of her quality of life.

After a series of court battles, Mr. Schiavo won the right to remove the feeding tube in 2003, prompting the state legislature to pass a law that gave Mr. Bush the authority to continue the feeding, although that law was struck down in the courts.

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