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Terri Schiavo and Christian Fundamentalism

John Simkin

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I think that you need to have more faith in the basic workings of the US judicial branch, Tim. The reason most commonly cited for why even this Supreme Court won't take up the Schiavo case now is that all the medical, legal, and ethical questions have been exhaustively examined at every possible and conceivable level in the system.

It's time to stop experimenting on this poor woman and let her die in peace.

Re David's post:

It was precisely my point that all the medical tests had not been completed.

I also heard that the court had appointed a guardiam ad litem for Terry.  As many of you may know, in America a court can appoint a guardian of a person or a person's estate (essentially someone who acts in that person's behalf) for the life of the person.  A guardian ad litem is appointed ad litem (for the litigation) solely to represent the person in the litigation.  There was a guardian ad litem appointed for Terry who had OPPOSED removing the feeding tube.  How many people knew that?

I submit that it matters not to Terry that she "dies in peace" and there is no articuable reason it should matter to her husband.  No one should be concerned if she is not killed by the judicial system.  But her parents will be beside themselves if their daughter dies.  Re the people really involved in the case, the greatest happiness for those people result if she is kept alive.  No one loses; her parents gain.  Seems a rather elemental analysis.  Regardless of the moral issues involved in starving someone to death who does not otherwise need life support systems, the fact that several people "win" and no one really loses if she is kept alive suggests the obvious solution.

It is clear right-wing Christian fundamentalists are trying to exploit the case of Terri Schiavo to their advantage. In reality, it is the first stage of the religious right’s fight to determine the next Republican nominee. As one political commentator, Andrew Sullivan, has pointed out: “Those of us who have long worried that unleashing religious fundamentalism into the bloodstream of American politics would lead to disaster can feel only that our fears have now come true.” Sullivan, is of course a right-wing supporter of Bush.

Let me remind you of the background to this case. Fifteen years ago Schiavo suffered a heart stoppage that was caused by her bulimia. Her brain was temporarily starved of oxygen and scans showed that her cerebral cortex had stopped functioning.

For several years after this happened, her husband, Michael Schiavo, did all he could to find treatment for her, going from hospital to hospital trying new therapies. This included sending her to California to have experimental platinum electrodes implanted to get her brain going again.

Eventually, Michael Schiavo, accepted what he had been told all along, that his wife would never be revived. Her electroencephalogram readings was and is flat – she has no brain waves. She has no ability to think, feel or communicate. Her random eye movements can give the impression of some kind of awareness, but her doctors insist this is not the case.

Since entering the coma her body has suffered a wide variety of problems that has resulted in having organs removed and part of her foot amputated. The sight of a human being in a state of disintegration became too much for Michael Schiavo to bear. He decided to let her die with dignity.

Terri’s parents, for religious reasons, disagreed with this decision. However, state law makes it clear that as her legal guardian, Michael has the right to make this decision. For several years Terri’s parents have fought him in the courts. However, court after court acknowledged the overwhelming medical data and the fact that Terri’s legal guardian was her husband.

The religious right then decided to get involved. They saw this as a test of their influence over Republican politicians. First of all they resorted to historical analogies claiming that Michael’s behaviour was comparable to the Nazi atrocities committed against disabled Germans in the 1930s (history has never been the Christian right’s strong point). They have also used their power over the media to smear Michael’s character.

The Christian right asked their politicians what they were going to do about this situation. Congress responded by calling an emergency Sunday session to pass a law to delay the process of death. George Bush showed his support by rushing back to Washington to sign the bill in the middle of the night.

Bush explained his behaviour by saying that “it is wise to always err on the side of life”. This is the same man who signed countless death warrants as governor of Texas. He also signed a Texas law that gave next of kin discretion to remove life support from a terminally ill patient in the absence of a living will.

Bush and his cronies are of course challenging the US constitution. This means trying to undermine the power of individual states to determine their own legal actions. Understandably, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case. It is clear to the Supreme Court, and all other rational views on the US legal system, that the Florida’s courts have acted within the law.

This of course has nothing to do with the “right to life”. Last week in Texas a 8 year old boy died after his feeding tube was removed because his parents could not afford treatment. The religious right appeared to be uninterested in this case. Why? Because this raises issues like the importance of wealth over life chances. In Europe we already have had this debate and we have chosen the route of socialized medicine. That of course, has been rejected by the right in America. Therefore they can only make a fuss about someone who has got a good insurance policy. It has of course nothing to do with morality.

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I think it's worth adding that Florida has already passed a Terri Schiavo bill to enable Governor Jeb Bush to intervene and resume the process of keeping Terri in a state of 'not-life, not-death'. This intervention was subsequently rejected by the court system in Florida.

The reports I've read in US newspapers today indicate that Governor Jeb Bush is now coming under pressure from the religious right to 'act' (although it's not clear how).

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John, I think part of the problem here is a basic misunderstanding of the facts of the case.

One very troubling fact about the case is that it is not clear what caused Terri's injury in the first place. It was not clearly the results of bolimia as you suggested.

According to an article on World Net Daily, the report of a total-body bone scan done on Mrs. Schiavo, while she was in a rehabilitation facility following the collapse that led to her brain damage, describes what are known as "hot spots" suggestive of multiple fractures. In the words of an unnamed physician who reviewed the report: "Somebody worked her over real good."

Dr. William Hammesfahr, a neurologist and Nobel Prize nominee — testified that testified that he'd only seen "this peculiar constellation of injuries," referencing her rigid neck and cardiac arrest, in a case of attempted strangulation.

Another fact also suggests Mrs. Schiavo's collapse may not have been accidental. In testimony given during the 2000 trial, Mrs. Schiavo's friend and co-worker said Mrs. Schiavo discussed getting a divorce and moving in with her. She also testified that the couple had a violent argument on the day of her collapse, which prompted the friend to urge Mrs. Schiavo not to stay at home that night – a suggestion Mrs. Schiavo disregarded.

The suspicious physical findings and evidence of a violent argument the day Mrs. Schiavo collapsed is insufficient evidence to conclude that Michael Schiavo physically abused his wife, let alone tried to strangle her, but the evidence certainly does raise questions. If indeed spousal abuse contributed to her collapse, that fact would explain, however, Michael Schiavo's fight to kill his wife, since if she was dead that would forever prevent any possibility of her testifying against him.

Dr. Hammesfahr testified that Mrs. Schiavo Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state. He also testified that he believes he could help her improve her circumstances through proper medical treatment.

Dr. Hammesfahr told CNN that he "spent about 10 hours across about three months [examining Terri] and the woman is very aware of her surroundings. She's very aware. She's alert. She's not in a coma. She's not in PVS. With proper therapy, she will have a tremendous improvement. I think, personally, that she'll be able to walk, eventually, and she will be able to use at least one of her arms."

Dr. Hammesfahr's opinion was recently seconded by Dr. William Cheshire, a prominent Florida neurologist, who said, "I believe that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there is a greater likelihood that Terri is in a minimally conscious state than a persistent vegetative state."

If a person is not in a persistent vegetative state, the law prohibits denying that person food and hydration.

Florida State Court Judge Greer disregarded the testimony of these two neurologists and ruled that Mrs. Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. One of the difficulties in the case is that appellate courts usually provide great deference to factual determinations made by trial court judges.

But a determination of whether a person is in a persistent vegetative state can be fraught with errors. (In a 1996 British medical journal study conducted at England's Royal Hospital for Neurodisability concluded that there was a 43% error rate in the diagnosis of PVS.)

Moreover, Judge Greer dismissed a motion for basic tests despite over thirty-three ffidavits from doctors and other medical professionals contending that Terri's condition should be reevaluated, and that Terri could respond favorably to therapy.

Yesterday I heard on a tv news program that Mrs. Schiavo has never been given a CT scan or an MRI, basic neurological tests.

Nor has she been permitted some basic rehabilitative therapy. Sarah Green Mele is a speech therapist from the world-renowned Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Mele stated in an affidavit that Terri would, "within a reasonable degree of clinical probability, be able to improve her ability to interact with her environment, communicate with others, and control her environment if she were given appropriate therapy and training . . ."

And Judge Greer has made certainly made mistakes in the past. A few years ago, Judge Greer found that Helene Ball McGee did not have reasonable cause to believe domestic violence was imminent and so he denied her an order of protection from her husband. Two weeks later, her husband stabbed her to death. So much for the decision-making ability of the judge who ruled, contrary to substantial medical evidence to the contrary, that Mrs. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state!

With respect to the care given Mrs. Schiavo by her husband, consider this evidence from the affidavit of a nurse who cared for Mrs. Schiavo in


I know that Terri did not receive routine physical therapy or any other kind of therapy. I was personally aware of orders for rehabilitation that were not being carried out. Even though they were ordered, Michael would stop them. Michael ordered that Terri receive no rehabilitation or range of motion therapy. I and Olga would give Terri range of motion anyway, but we knew we were endangering our jobs by doing so. We usually did this behind closed doors, we were so fearful of being caught. Our hearts would race and we were always looking out for Michael, because we knew that, not only would Michael take his anger out on us, but he would take it out more on Terri. We spoke of this many times.

Affidavit of Heidi Law.

The case is not a simple case of "Christian fundamentalism" as this topic is titled. Denying basic food and hydration raises great moral and ethical issues particularly as it relates to disabled people. And that is one reason why Congress passed the special legislation last week. The Boston Globe noted that even one objection from a Democrat would have delayed Senate action, but Democrats took their cue from Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and let the motion go forward.

Harkin is a longtime ally of disability groups and a coauthor of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Last week, he worked with Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, and Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, on legislation allowing federal review of the Schiavo case.

''Senator Harkin's role was very, very key in terms of Senate leadership. Because Senator Harkin has been a leader on disability rights, Democrats were willing to give him deference, " said Marilyn Golden, policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

More than a dozen national disability rights groups signed the National Disability Groups Joint Statement in Support of Terri Schiavo, which reads in part:

In this matter of living as a disabled person, those of us who live with a disability are the experts--not husbands, not parents, not doctors, not ethicists. We know that life with a disability is worth living, and we know something we find appalling is the attitude of "better off dead"--an opinion that drives much of the thinking surrounding people like Terri-Schindler-Schiavo.

It is interesting that John has elsewhere criticized Christians for supporting the powerful over the defenseless. Yet clearly in this case the Christians are concerned with people with disabilities and people who are unable to defend themselves.

In my opinion it is really worth considering the opinion of a Ed Smith, a gifted quadraplegic writer, and retired educator, and certainly no fan of George Bush:

I find myself sleeping with the enemy these days. That includes U.S. President George W. Bush, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, all the little bushes (Republicans) who scurry around after them, the ultra-conservative Christian Right in the United States, and Lord knows who else.

The bed is getting rather crowded and for me grossly uncomfortable, but here we all are. As that other meaning for the euphemistic "sleeping with" implies, very little actual sleeping is going on.

"Enemy" means that normally I take issue, and sometimes even great umbrage, with the agendas of the conservative, far right crowd. Now we seem to have a common cause.

As the court documents so coldly put it, this concerns "the matter relating to one Theresa Maria Schiavo." Terri Schiavo is the 41-year-old Florida woman who was brain-damaged 15 years ago and has just had the feeding tube that keeps her alive disconnected.

As I write, her parents' last hope to keep her alive has been dashed by a judge who, after hearing their suit on Monday, March 21, refused to order the tube reconnected. Terri Schiavo has now been without the necessities of life for five days. Shortly she will starve to death.

A brief synopsis of the case may be in order. According to her doctors, Terri has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since the cardiac arrest that destroyed much of her brain. Her husband, Michael, is her legal guardian and as such several years ago gave permission for his wife's nutrition and hydration tube to be removed.

Opposing Michael Schiavo are Terri's parents, who have been desperately fighting to keep their daughter alive.

Given the politicization of the Terri Schiavo case it's easy to lose sight of the real issue, which is that a determination has been made that a brain-damaged person does not deserve to go on living. A judgment has been made on the quality of this person's life, and since that quality does not meet the standards of those involved, it has been decided she should cease to be.

My concern is: (1) that she's being euthanized because she's disabled; and (2) by extension, the fact that there has been created the infamous slippery slope on which tens of thousands of incapacitated and disabled human beings will now find themselves.

I see two basic procedural and human problems here.

The first has to do with who, if anyone, should be responsible for making the decision as to whether she lives or dies. Legally the husband is generally regarded as the closest next of kin. The water here is somewhat muddied, however, because Michael Schiavo has had another love interest for some years.

I don't hold that against him, but it strikes me as incredibly strange that her husband, who has moved on with his life to the point of embracing another woman, still has the legal right to starve Terri to death.

This raises the question of who should therefore be Terri's legal and moral guardian. The parents? The Schindlers' love for their daughter is what's kept her alive for years. Other parents in similar circumstances have fought to have life-support systems removed.

The medical team? It states that Terri has no cognitive awareness and no hope of ever regaining any. The Schindlers, on the other hand, have found 33 doctors and therapists, 15 of whom are neurosurgeons, who state a contradictory view.

The courts? The courts deal in matters of law and not necessarily the rightness or wrongness of an issue. God preserve us from judgments rooted in the vagaries of law when the question is one of ethics and morality.

The second problem has to do with the withholding of food and water. Food and drink are not artificial life support. They are the basic necessities of life for every form of life on this planet. It is incomprehensible to me that any civilized culture would sentence a human being to slow death by starvation, but that's what they're doing to Terri Schiavo.

I live with quadriplegia and have been told I'd be better off dead. Predictably I couldn't agree less. My life has value for me and I'm told to several others.

Ah, you say, but you're different, Smith. You can function quite well on several levels and you make a contribution to your community through your writing and so on. OK, so who draws the line between Terri Schiavo and Ed Smith, and where will the line be?

When is a life so worthless it can be judged to have no right to exist? Who determines that someone like Terri should die and I should live? And the most fundamental question of all: should anyone other than the person concerned have the right to decide life and death for someone who is not kept alive through artificial means?

Emerging from the complexities and confusions engendered by those questions, I believe one thing with all my heart and soul. No one – not the courts, not the medical community, not even the family – has the right to bring life to an end before its time, especially when that determination is based upon the perceived quality of life of the person concerned.

The combined authority of the president of the United States, the governor of Florida and the U.S. Congress are seemingly not enough to prevent Terri Schiavo's death. But perhaps we're looking to the wrong authority.

Only a society believing strongly in the sanctity of human life, whatever its perceived worth, will be enough to prevent such tragedies from happening again and again, and more and more often.

"Society must function on a presumption of life," President Bush said a day or so ago, "and we must always err on the side of life." It's about the only thing he's ever said that I agree with.

Terri Schiavo's life is tragic. The manner of her death even more so because it creates a legal and moral context in which other, similar decisions can be made in the future.

It is humankind that will reap the whirlwind.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

First of all they resorted to historical analogies claiming that Michael’s behaviour was comparable to the Nazi atrocities committed against disabled Germans in the 1930s (history has never been the Christian right’s strong point). They have also used their power over the media to smear Michael’s character.

John, as noted in my previous post, there are indications, suggestions, that spousal abuse by Michael may have contributed to Terri's collapse. I was careful to point out that the evidence is insufficient to reach a firm conclusion but the evidence is there.

In addition, of course, it is uncontested that shortly after his wife suffered her injury Mr. Schiavo started to see other women and he is now cohabitating with a woman with whom he has fathered two children. Given his wife's condition, it might not be fair to consider that he was "cheating" on her but his relationship with the other woman raises questions why he did not simply divorce Terri. Any possible answer must relate to his desire to control her fate, and perhaps to ensure claim to any of her remaining trust funds. His refusal to divorce Terri raises issues of his fairness to the other woman.

Speaking of which, were you aware that Mr. Schiavo has spent almost $400,000 of funds that were designated in the malpractice settlement for the lifetime care of Terri on the attorney who is conducting his fight to be allowed to kill her?

One could forgive Mr. Schiavo if he divorced Terri so he could marry his lady friend. But he would have thereby ceded his right to make medical decisions on her behalf.

He also has fought in court to limit the right of Terri's parents to see their dying daughter.

This is not a man whose morals I would hold up as an example. Neither, I am confident, would you.

Finally, you comment about the religious right's power over the media to smear Michael Schiavo. Interestingly, conservatives have protested just the opposite: that the main-stream media have failed to discuss the concerns about his ethics!

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For those interested in a living will, here is a link:


I would strongly suggest that anyone wanting a living will obtain competent legal representation in his or her own jurisdiction, however. I.e., don't just use the form suggested in the link to "do it yourself".

Terri's case certainly demonstrates that even young people should think through these complicated issues that, unfortunately, do occasionally arise even at young ages if accidents occur.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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This is a comment by Sen. Frist who is, of course, a licensed medical doctor:

Fifteen neurologists have signed affidavits that Terri should have additional testing by unbiased, independent neurologists. I'm told that Terri never had an MRI or a PET scan of her head. And, that disturbs me only because it suggests that she hasn't been fully evaluated by today's standards. You don't have to have an MRI Scan or a PET Scan to have a diagnosis of vegetative state. But, if you are going to put somebody to death, I would think you would want a complete neurological exam in reaching that conclusion."

Under Florida law it is murder to starve a person to death unless he or she is in a persistent vegetative state. Is it believable that a Florida court would allow Terri to be put to death without BOTH an MRI and a PET scan? As an attorney once said about the Warren Commission, the speed with which the court system is authorizing this woman's death certainly constitutes a "rush to judgment".

And as I noted in a previous post, the findings of a British study indicate mistakes are routinely made in the diagnoses of vegetative states. These findings are further indication that a decision to send someone to her death ought to be based on the best available evidence, not on the subjective evaluation of physicians who cannot agree amongst themselves in any event.

This is not Christian fundamentalism. It is no more than fundamental fairness. In fact, it ought to be liberals leading the fight to protect this woman!

Edited by Tim Gratz
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This is a comment by Sen. Frist who is, of course, a licensed medical doctor:

This would be the Sen Frist, MD (as I believe he wants to be called) who made a complete fool of himself by making a diagnosis in a field he has little knowledge of on the basis of watching a short sequence of videotape.

My spontaneous reaction, once more, Tim, is that you should place a little more credence in the judicial branch. There have been seven years of hearings and 15 years of trying to find treatments, so far. The fact that the Supreme Court, with the current make-up it has, refused to touch this case with a bargepole ought to be a pointer to the fact that, for once, there is nothing wrong with the judicial review that has been carried out.

It's a sad case - and no-one would want to be in the shoes of any of the protagonists. I feel tremendously sorry for Terri, who was cut down in the prime of life 15 years ago … and equally sorry for he poor husband, who's had to undergo calculated character assassination for purely political purposes. Let's just hope that there's a rebound and someone asks the religious right the question that was once asked of Senator Joe McCarthy: have you no sense of decency?

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Let's just hope that there's a rebound and someone asks the religious right the question that was once asked of Senator Joe McCarthy: have you no sense of decency?

That is amazing David. I also planned to quote Joseph N. Welch, chief attorney for the Army, who said to McCarthy (after he smeared one of his young assistants):

"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"

It was said that it was this outburst that brought an end to McCarthyism. Not true of course. The extreme right in America continue to use such tactics.

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I am fairly saddened that this case has become such an incredible focus of the international media, and the courts, and the governor, and the Congress, and teh President, when it is fundamentally a family matter.

I do not think any person in the history of litigation has had more due process done one her behalf than that of Terri Schiavo. She has been in her condition for fifteen years and the basis of the lawsuit that netted Michael Schiavo a $1 million settlement was the fact that doctors had failed to diagnose her bulimia (not that he was awarded for spousal abuse)

The 1998 court case (8 years into her present condition) had contending family members fighting over her care. Her husband and other witnesses presented evidence that Terri had stated she did not want to remain in a vegitative condition without hope. She has been under the care of a large number of doctors. I think if you look closely into it, the weight of the medical profession has weighed in that her case is hopeless and that her body actions that remain are reflexes. There medical world leans overwhelmingly to the opinion that Terri is already gone and that her body only is being sustained.

Since this court case there have been 7 more years of reveiws, appeals, legislative and executive action.

Mr. Schiavo could have easily walked away and he claims he is trying to honor the wishes of his wife. He is trying to do what he feels he is absolutely certain that she wants.

Sure he has moved on. It has been 15 years. I think the efforts to impugne his character beyond normal human weakneses and failings have been horrifically unfair.

It is a sad story.

The Christian Right to Life crowd has swung into a major campaign on it. The Republican Party thought they had a wedge issue that would work out in their favor to the point where President Bush flew in in his pajamas to sign the bill, but the backlash against this intrusion into family affairs and using the Congress to pass a national law for 1 person has been so extreme that Congress and the President have not have the nerve to try to use the bill.

It is a confusing case, but largely because the attention has served to obfuscate the facts instead of to calrify them. Shame on the enternainment news media (as always)

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There is character assassination and then there is also just plain assassination.

As I mentioned, Mrs. Schiavo was never given CT scans nor an MRI.

To condemn her to death on the basis of subjective medical opionions without using the latest objective neurological tests is what offends my fubdanental sense of fairness.

You gentlemen state that Terri has had years of court scrutiny. So, my friends, have the numerous prisoners who have been freed after years in prison due to the most up to date objective test--DNA tests. Several of these prisoners were on death row. Each and every one of these reversals proves that courts do make mistakes. That innocent men and women may have been executed even after years of judicial review is one of the strongest arguments against capital punishment.

Let's consider an analogy: Let's assume a prisoner is to be executed within twenty four hours. As you know, any prisoner so close to death has had years of judicial review. But his new attorney realizes there has been no DNA test on the murder-rape victim and appeals to the court to allow a DNA test that may objectively prove the innocence of the condemned man.

If you would repeat your argument about the Schiava case and state no DNA test should be given because the man had already had years of judicial review, then you are at least consistent. But I doubt any one of you would do that.

To condemn Mrs. Schiavo to death without the results of basic neurological tests, is, I submit, an action that truly requires the question to each member of the judiciary that has "rubber-stamped" Judge Greer' "rush to judgment": "Have you no sense of decency?"

Edited by Tim Gratz
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John wrote:

It is clear right-wing Christian fundamentalists are trying to exploit the case of Terri Schiavo to their advantage.

I replied:

And as I noted in a previous post, the findings of a British study indicate mistakes are routinely made in the diagnoses of vegetative states. These findings are further indication that a decision to send someone to her death ought to be based on the best available evidence, not on the subjective evaluation of physicians who cannot agree amongst themselves in any event.

This is not Christian fundamentalism. It is no more than fundamental fairness. In fact, it ought to be liberals leading the fight to protect this woman!

I should point out that the Senate approval of the bill could have been delayed had a SINGLE Democrat rose in opposition to it. Not a single Democrat chose to do so.

I have argued this is not a right-left issue. It is a right-wrong fundamental fairness issue and LIBERALS should be in the forefront of the fight.

At least ONE liberal has the courage of his convictions. He meets the criteria for admission in a new version of JFK's "Profiles in Courage":

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - As Terri Schiavo entered her 12th full day without food or water, the Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed with her parents Tuesday and joined conservatives in calling for state lawmakers to order her feeding tube reinserted.

The former Democratic presidential candidate was invited by Schiavo's parents to meet with activists outside Schiavo's hospice. His arrival was greeted by some applause and cries of "This is about civil rights!"

"I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," he said. "This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes."

Jackson's visit provided an emotional boost to Schiavo's parents and siblings, who have maintained that Schiavo would want to be kept alive. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, insists he is carrying out her wishes by having the feeding tube pulled.

"I wanted the Reverend Jackson here for moral support," said Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo's mother. "I feel good with him here. Very strong. He gives me strength."

Jackson said he asked Michael Schiavo for permission to see the brain-damaged woman but was denied. George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, declined comment.

Jackson also telephoned black legislators in a last-ditch effort to bring back a bill that would prohibit severely brain-damaged patients from being denied food and water if they didn't express their wishes in writing. Lawmakers rejected the legislation earlier this month and appeared unlikely to reconsider it.

One of those contacted by Jackson, Democratic state Sen. Gary Siplin, said he told Jackson the issue had been "thoroughly discussed." Senate Democratic leader Les Miller added, "I have voted. It's time to move on."

Bob Schindler described his daughter as "failing" following his visit Tuesday.

"She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances," Schindler said. "You can see the impact of no food and water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her."

During Jackson's visit, a man was tackled to the ground by officers when he tried to storm into the hospice, police said. He became the 47th protester arrested since the feeding tube was removed March 18. The man had two bottles of water with him but did not reach the hospice door, police said.

Doctors have said Terri Schiavo, 41, would probably die within a week or two of the tube being removed. She suffered catastrophic brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped for several minutes because of a chemical imbalance apparently brought on by an eating disorder.

___ Associated Press Writer Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee contributed to this story.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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I would be willing to bet that the lack of good information by those of us who are "monitoring" this circus, and the misinformation being spewed at us by Shiavo's parents and the christian right combine to make any argument hard to maintain. Who is to truely question Mr. Shiavo. Who else would know if Teri wanted to live or die. I suspect that there is a myriad of things that I have told my wife and not my parents, and I would be willing to bet the same is true in Mr. and Mrs. Shiavo's case.

Accordingly, if it were my daughter I'm not sure what I'd want to do, assuming that her husband has nothing to gain from her death, the only thing that her parents have is the ability to see their daughter, but who would want to see someone they loved in a vegitative state? I truely believe that the issue has been blown out of proportion by the religious right, how many other people have had the plug pulled on them, without a written will, during this time period?

As someone mentioned earlier this is being used as a wedge by the right to divide the population and maintain conservative religious power.

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But Justin, isn't it as simple as this:

It may not make sense to us why it is so important for Terri's family (parents and brothers) why she stay alive and they can see her, given the state that she is in, but neither of us have been in their shoes. All we know is they love her.

It ought to make no difference to her "husband" who is with another woman (and family) and who obviously no longer loves her. He can simply divorce her. I understand there is now little money left in her trust anyway.

Letting Terri live ought to be a win/win situation, since there are no losers if she lives.

Fundamental kindness ought to dictate giving the parents what they want.

Isn't it as simple as that?

With respect to the argument that it is a wedge issue for the religious right, the involvement of prominent liberals in support of her right to live ought to disprove that. Like I said, liberals who are concerned with the rights of minorities, the disabled and the powerless should support her cause (as many do).

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It may not make sense to us why it is so important for Terri's family (parents and brothers) why she stay alive and they can see her, given the state that she is in, but neither of us have been in their shoes.  All we know is they love her.

It ought to make no difference to her "husband" who is with another woman (and family) and who obviously no longer loves her.  He can simply divorce her.  I understand there is now little money left in her trust anyway.

Letting Terri live ought to be a win/win situation, since there are no losers if she lives.

Fundamental kindness ought to dictate giving the parents what they want.

Isn't it as simple as that?

Tim, I understand your concern for Terri's parents and brothers (remember that her family includes Michael Schiavo too). However, I think that you're being far too hard on her husband.

Why is it so 'obvious' that her husband doesn't love her? I would say that someone who's fought so hard to protect Terri's dignity and integrity in the face of such unjustifiable vilification is certainly showing all the symptoms of love. Wasn't he offered a million to "hand Terri over" (like an unwanted parcel) to her parents? If he was only in it for the money, he had a great opportunity to demonstrate it then.

There's one loser at least if Terri's kept in her current vegetative state - Terri Schiavo. So far as it's possible to tell, she didn't want to end up as an experimental animal in a laboratory.

And sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind … Encouraging Terri's parents to keep believing that she can be revived has been the real cruelty here for me. It's time for them to move on, but the religious right are just making it more and more difficult for them to do that.

Soon Terri will have been cremated, and the show will be over (one of the real horrors of this situation is that the religious right have turned people's suffering into a show - some respect for human life!). I wonder how many of the Republican senators and the other religious fanatics involved will be giving even a thought to Terri Schiavo this time next year. If my analysis of their motives is right, the only thought they'll be giving her is how they can use the case again to further their political careers.

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Nat Henthoff wrote in The Village Voice that the Schiavo case is America's longest public execution. Henthoff is, as you know, an atheist. (Rev Jackson is a Christian minister but certainly no member of the religious right.)

What is bothersome about the case is that Micheal had more than sufficient funds to get her the best possible medical diagnnosis and care but for whatever reason did not do so. Therefore, the best medical tests have never been done on her to determine the extent of her brain damage.

If she had had such tests, my analysis might be different. But the refusal of the court to order such basic tests is difficult to comprehend.

I am also concerned about ascribing motives to people. It is certainly possible some politicians thought it might be a popular case. But I think it unfair to assume that all of the politicians involved have ulterior motives rather than a sincere concern with fundamental fairness and the sanctity of life. As the Rev Jackson said Tuesday, the issue here transcends politics.

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