Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the woman who has been at the center of decade-long euthanasia debate in Florida, was transferred from the hospice where she resides to a nearby hospital on Aug. 13 when she began coughing up blood. She had to be taken to the second facility because the hospice her husband insists she live in is only equipped to provide palliative care and cannot supply medical treatment. Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have protested her presence there because Terri is not dying. However, her husband, who maintains guardianship despite living openly in an adulterous relationship with a woman with whom he has just had a child, will not allow her to be moved to a facility that can provide more appropriate care, nor will he allow her to receive treatment that might improve her condition.
Terri’s family was not told of her move for over 24 hours, despite a court order in place that requires her husband inform them of any change in her medical condition. With the intervention of their lawyer, they have since been informed that the bleeding stopped, but no cause for it was identified. Terri is suffering from pneumonia and a urinary tract infection, but neither complaint is considered serious.
Terri collapsed in 1990 under suspicious circumstances, and a bone scan a year later revealed that she had suffered a history of trauma that had resulted in broken bones all over her body, as well as damage to her windpipe consistent with attempted strangulation. No definite cause for the event was ever found, but Terri was profoundly disabled by it, and remains so today. Her husband filed a malpractice case on her behalf and she was awarded $700,000 for her medical care. However, acting as her guardian, Terri’s husband has spent over $400,000 of that money on lawyers in an attempt to euthanize Terri, rather than using the funds to treat or rehabilitate her.
On the same day Terri became ill, her family filed an emergency motion for stay in the Florida supreme court, in an effort to keep Schiavo from having Terri’s feeding tube removed, thereby starving her to death, before the court can review her case. The Schindler family is accusing Judge George Greer of Pinellas Fla., who had previously allowed an attempt to starve Terri, of extreme bias towards Terri’s husband.
In part, this is because after reviewing videotape of Terri obviously responding in a sentient way to various stimuli and following doctor’s directions to open her eyes, he still ruled that she was in a “permanent vegetative state” and therefore could be allowed to die slowly and painfully by starvation.
Judge Greer’s ruling was eventually reversed, but only after Terri had been denied nutrition and hydration for a period of time.