Thursday, March 31, 2005

Schiavo Died Nearly Fourteen Years Ago

By WILLIAM YARDLEY and MARIA NEWMAN

Her Body Died Nearly Two Weeks After Removal of The Feeding Tube

“Terri Schiavo, the severely brain damaged Florida woman who became the subject of an intense legal and political battle that drew responses from the White House to the Halls of Congress to the Vatican, died today, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed on the order of a state court judge.

Ms. Schiavo, 41, died just before 10 a.m. today in the Pinellas Park hospice where she had lived, off and on, for several years, her husband's attorney said. But even as she slipped away, the searing emotions that surrounded her final days remained, following a national debate over whether she should have been reconnected to a tube that provided her with nourishment and hydration.

‘Her husband was present by her bed, cradling her,’ said George Felos, Michael Schiavo's lawyer. ‘Mrs. Schiavo died a calm death, a peaceful death and a gentle death.’ ”

And it's almost certain that no lessons have been learned.

The fight between Ms. Schiavo's husband to have his wife's feeding tube removed, and her parents, who said she could still recover if she was given proper treatment, lasted seven years and made its way from the state courts to the Supreme Court, and back again, several times. On Wednesday night, the Supreme Court refused, for the sixth time, to intervene in the matter.

The family's dispute also resulted in a new state law in Florida and an emergency session of the House of Representatives that produced a new federal law signed by President Bush in the early hours of the morning of March 21.

A range of judges consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo, but her parents would not give up, going from court to court and appealing to politicians and to people who believed that removing the tube was tantamount to taking a life.

"Not only has Mrs. Schiavo's case been given due process, but few, if any similar cases have ever been afforded this heightened level of process," Chief Judge Chris Altenbernd, of the Second Court of Appeal in Florida, wrote earlier this month.

The legal fight provoked a great national discussion, with polls showing most people did not believe politicians should be involved in personal issues of one family trying to decide whether a family member should be kept alive. But it also provoked a great outcry among an ad hoc coalition of Catholic and evangelical lobbyists, street organizers and legal advisers, some of whom demonstrated outside the hospice in recent days, and picketed outside the homes of Mr. Schiavo and Judge George W. Greer of Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, who originally ordered the tube removed.

Snippets of a video tape the Schindlers made of their daughter three years ago in which she appears to be smiling, grunting and moaning in response to her mother's voice, and to follow a balloon with her eyes, has become ingrained in the national consciousness after being replayed on news channels over and over again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/31/national/31cnd-schiavo.html?pagewanted=all&position=
con·cept: Schiavo Died Nearly Fourteen Years Ago