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  "I think that you should let Terri die..."



"I have early Alzheimer's..."



"We signed the papers to have him disconnected..."



"My daughter is on a feeding tube..."



"I attended high school with Mike Schiavo in 1981..."



  This is a watershed case, one that could change the way we treat people who are termed "useless." If the court overturns the new law in Florida and allows this woman to be starved to death, then I believe we will see more cases like this crop up in the nation -- cases where the person no longer functions in what is termed a useful way could then be "terminated". Read that as murder.

And once it starts, where does it end? Would, then, children who are born with defects be "terminated"? How about elderly people with diseases such as Alzheimer's? Would the courts allow health care providers to stop feeding them, and thus allow them to starve to death? The list s of "damaged" or "useless" individuals targeted for this "humane termination" could be endless.
Emantha Qualinesti, Rushville, In

Millions of people, including myself, have had to make the wrenching decision about whether to remove life support from a loved one when there is no hope for a return of brain function. The decision is difficult enough without having the state, religion, and individual interlopers looking over your shoulder to intervene in what is essentially a private family matter. If you really loved this individual, would you want him or her to live in that state? And even if there is money involved, would you make a decision that may be contrary to your loved one's desire and what you believe is his or her best interest because you may be suspect? After you give your best shot at trying to rehabilitate him or her and fail, should you be demonized because you try to go on with your own life while grieving?

Her husband has lived in this state of uncertainty for all this time, and he is now condemned for wanting to go on with his own life, now that he can't do anything more for his wife. The religious right have made this issue a cause celebre, along with right-wing Republicans such as Jeb Bush. Why our own community is allowing them to lead us is beyond me.

Even if some of the money remains, after paying medical bills and legal fees, most people in Michael Schiavo's situation might argue that rather than having the money, they would prefer to have their loved one. Not all decisions like this are made in a mercenary fashion and it is unfair to ascribe these motivations to him.

Yes, the Schindler family disagrees with Terri's husband. That is their right. Under Florida law, the spouse, with certain limitations, gets to make the decision, which is how it should be. This is a private family agony. Outsiders need not interfere.

I have stated my concerns on the Disabilities Network of New York City listserv and have been astounded by the number of people who have responded (off list) that they agree with me. We should not develop a "community position" on such an emotional issue based on who shouts the loudest.
Marvin Wasserman, New York

As a Christian conservative I want to preserve life always, but I also want to hear the medical facts in this case that seem to be conspicuously missing. Fox News and others show the emotional side of the family, and keep showing the video supposedly showing conscious brain activity. Why can't medical professionals ascertain whether or not this woman is brain dead or not. The video proves nothing. I am dumbfounded that the truth can't come forth.
Henry A. Butler, Dallas, TX

I too am disabled. I have early Alzheimer's, and yes, my spelling has gotten worse, I use the incorrect words sometimes, but I would hate to see anyone tell my I could not have food and water, when the time comes that my brain gets worse. To allow ANY human to starve to death is barbaric.
Susanne Southworth, Highland, NY

Her husband is an asshole! Why doesn't he just get divorced...why? Because he wants the cash!
Jack, Omaha, NE

I do not think her husband sounds as if he has provided the care that she needed. She should at least be allowed to try the treatments to be able to swallow.
Elaine Redmond, Ontario

Looking over all the evidence, how could someone possibly side with the husband at all? At first glance you feel "bad" for him. Then as your read all the different articles, it is very clear who the victim really is in this case. How can something like this happen in the year 2003? Terri did not have a living will, PERIOD. Therefore she is to receive all the care and treatment she deserves!
Dee, Boston, MA

I don't think Terri has a chance of a normal life. So far she has not shown any real signs of being able to help herself.

I know how her parents are struggling to keep their daughter. In 1991, my late husband and I and 2 of our sons had to make the decision to remove our oldest son from a respirator . He had brain cancer. He was having seizures..

Seeing him was breaking our hearts. He was brain dead according to the doctor and radiologist. If by some small chance he had come out of the coma , his pain would have been intolerable according to the doctor. Jim was a truck driver, 35 years old, single.

We signed the papers to have him disconnected and 10 to 12 minutes later his life was gone. It hurts, I know; but had Jim lived he would have been in constant pain. He didn't want to live that way.

That Sunday, signing those papers tore my heart out, but my Jim could not and would not want to live in pain.

I understand their not wanting to give Terri up; I didn't want to give up my Jim, but I had to do what was best for him. We as a family gave him up, and I know today he is not suffering and is in peace in heaven. There is peace after the storm. I have been there as a mother.

Iris V. Fields, Brandon , FL

Any judge that is not crooked and in his right mind would make her a ward of the state and/or demand a divorce, which could be backed by the parents, on the grounds of neglect and/or abuse, or adultery or something! It looks to me that that judge is being paid off!
Ladonna Clark, Blue Springs, MO

. What gives Michael Schiavo and his attorney the right to choose death for Terri? Has Michael put himself in Terri's situation? She has every right to live. This man has not been faithful to her. He has a girlfriend, a baby and one on the way. That tells me that he no longer wanted anything to do with Terri. He definitely has something to hide and doesn't want Terri to be able to let anyone know what that is. Michael seems to me to be a selfish, cruel man who has no compassion or love for Terri and her family.
Anonymous, Casselberry, Fl

His fiancee had better watch out because if he is not willing to be with his current wife through all circumstances, what makes her think that he would be there for her? I feel that he would do the same to his next wife as well.
Stephanie Russell, Austin, TX

I am a 37-year-old woman and I would never want to die if there was hope -- and there is still hope for Terri if she responds to her mother like they say. She is alive and she is still with us. I think her husband should be given a divorce, and custody be given back to the parents and they should oversee her money and treatment from this day forward. I know if it were me in Terri's shoes I would do everything in my power to come back -- if for no other reason than to kick that low life pond scum husband's ass to hell and back.
Lesley Dycus , Palm City , FL

I am sickened by the overwhelming arrogance and the absolute lack of human judgment within our legal system today.
T Caldwell, Aurora, CO

I have a 18-year-old daughter who received a "traumatic brain injury" in a car accident in April 2002. She is also on a feeding tube and her responses are similar to Terri's. She is alive and as well as can be expected.

Why can't Terri's husband just walk away from her and allow her parents to continue to have their daughter? You can never give up hope. She feels the love of her parents and maybe this is why she responds to them. She knows what he is doing to her. If the courts were to take away her money from him the way they are taking away her life away from her, I'd bet money he would have walked away a long time ago!
Carol Lane, Merrick, NY

What type of husband encourages caregivers to NOT give his wife medication, who actually lets her sit there without getting any kind of examinations, who lets her sit there with a urinary tract infection? . The husband just moves on without a blink? Would you even consider this man to be human?
Nichole, San Francisco, CA

I do not believe her husband who is involved with another woman has the right to decided anything! Terri has parents who love her. Let them decide! I also think someone should check into the beatings this woman went through! Someone beat her and caused damage to her body! I would sure be looking at her husband!
Patti Barrett, Scottsbluff, NE

I have just finished reading the collected news stories about Terri on her website. I am appalled by the treatment she has received and believe that she deserves to be re-evaluated by independent doctors without her husband's interference. At the very least, continue feeding her until this evaluation is complete. To me it seems that she is not in a vegetative state -- she moves, smiles, reacts. And anyway, the starvation of an individual is horrific to contemplate. Could you starve your wife, daughter, dog?
Marjorie Bastanchury, San Luis Obispo, CA

I saw pictures of Terri and couldn't understand the coma explanation so I decided to get a little more information on her condition. She doesn't seem to be in a coma to me. I'm just appalled that this woman hasn't been given proper treatment for her condition and in fact may be allowed to starve to death because of her condition. I'm bothered by the lack of compassion in this case. What kind of people decide that because a person is severely challenged, mentally and physically, that they should die? It's scary to think that these people were able to get Terri's feeding tube removed even once. Maybe I'm missing something, but this is a no-brainer to me.
Debra Buttler, Mannheim, Germany

I just read in the local newspaper what has happened to Terri. As soon as I finished reading the article, I got on the Internet to learn more about this case. My opinion on the matter that a person declares that another deserves to die, for me its the worst kind of action a human being can take towards another.
Ayax Cisneros, Saltillo, Mexico

What I don't understand is...Michael has a new life now (which includes a new child). Why in the world doesn't he just turn guardianship over to Terri's parents? The ONLY reasons I can think of are that 1) He wants to keep the remaining amount of the money (if there is any of it left, which I feel he made sure there would be.) and 2) Terri IS the "evidence" of what happened to her on that dreadful day. It seems this man is simply trying to "get rid of the evidence." Not only has he killed her once, considering what I think he did to her to put her in this condition, but twice, for lack of treatment/rehabilitation for her. He is now killing her a third time; and he intends to do it "right" this time. I now have no more faith in our own government. Not only did they never investigate this case, as they should have, but they are "allowing" her husband to kill her. That is pre-meditated murder.
Billie M. Teague, Denison, Texas

I mean no offense, but I'm from Canada, and you never see stuff as sick as this here -- not usually. A friend from a NASCAR site asked me to read this to see what I thought about it all. It seems to me that the American public in general is virtually losing its collective mind. How and why did the perceptions of such a powerful country become so distorted? I'm sorry, but everything I see on CNN and shit like this really disturbs me. If this lady has any hope of recovery, that chance should be followed through, first and foremost. Is everything money down there?
Anthony Bombay, Thunder Bay, Ontario

I say: leave the feeding tube in! No one has the right to play God. Leave her alone -- maybe she will come out of it.
Antonio Poli, Kalkaska, MI

I think Terri's husband is a greedy, wife-beating sucker who just wants the woman to die so he can marry the slut by whom he's fathered children out of wedlock.
Sandra Lee, Washington, DC

Maybe he is the one who induced the heart attack; he probably fed her a banana that day and sent her into the heart attack; maybe that is why he has neglected her therapy for all these years -- because he doesn't want her to be able to speak out and tell everyone he tried to kill her.
Amanda Jennings, Jessup, Maryland

I went through an ordeal with my husband 30 years ago. Doctors said, "prepare yourself, he is in a coma, donate his heart etc. , if he doesn't die he will be a vegetable...."

I prayed. He is alive to this day. Although his speech has not totally recovered to what it was before and his physical abilities are not so that he can go out and play baseball, he graduated years ago from using a wheelchair to using a walker, and then to a cane.

Good grief, everyone gave him up for dead! But he is very much alive!! Can even drive a specially-equipped car, can eat by himself, and so on.

GIVE THIS girl a chance at life! Get some therapy! Even if 3 years of therapy didn't work, keep trying -- therapy takes time!

Just reading about this makes my blood boil! If the husband does not want to take care of her, let the parents do it!!!!
R.A., Glennie, MI

I think this is ridiculous. I would not want to live if I were in the condition she is in. The fight is over and she needs to be allowed to die. .
Tenia, Ft Lauderdale, FL

There is no hope for Terri. She has been gone for 13 years. Allow her to die with dignity. She has had any dignity and respect taken from her.
Elaine Christie, Philadelphia, PA

I attended high school with Mike Schiavo in 1981. He seemed like a very kind person, someone who wouldn't want anyone to suffer. Your article seemed very biased to me.
Tina Popolizio, Coatesville , PA

I work in restorative care. This is absolutely abysmal!! This girl's custody should be changed immediately in order to have better life-decisions made for her and for her to be able to regain some mobility and quality of life!
C.S. Martin, Fallon, NV

Terri Schiavo's case should be a wake-up call to ALL disabled persons. Who would have ever imagined the day when a helpless, disabled woman could be legally starved to death in America? The day will eventually come when all disabled persons are at risk of becoming a disposable societal inconvenience.
Linda Holman, Houston, TX

My daughter was unable to take a bottle when she was a baby due to a premature birth. She was fed with a feeding tube until she was seventeen months old. Taking the feeding tube away from her would have killed her, and that is exactly what is being done to Terri Schiavo. It is inhumane to starve some one to death. Nobody would allow this to happen to an animal -- how could anyone allow this to happen to a woman?
Jill Fox, Parkersburg , WV

My husband was in a car accident in April of this year. We would talk before his accident about being on life-support or even having severe disabilities and what we would want. He was very clear that he would not want to live. Never thinking we would be in that situation or actually having to make decisions, my worst nightmare came true.

He was in a coma for about two weeks and then we started seeing more signs of him coming around -- having sleep/wake cycles and more movement. Nothing was purposeful, though. So, trying to find out what going on I set up a meeting with my husband's doctor.

His opinion, like other doctors I've talked with since, was that he may get some better, but this was about as good as it gets. It has been almost seven months and he still does not talk, has a feeding tube, trach, and is dependent of every need. He does respond to stimuli, but makes no attempt to respond on his own.

I want very much for my husband to get better, but is it fair for me or any court system to keep him alive when I know without a doubt he would not want to live this way? I feel like we, his family, are being very selfish in not remembering what he would want. I will give him more time to get better and be there very step of the way, but if he does not improve, I know I will have to make a decision. Kim Green, Rives, TN

I am the mother of a 14-year-old son with extensive brain damage from his first immunization. I am also a special educator with 30 years experience in the field of people with brain injuries.

Terri is NOT in a vegetative state. She turns to sound (that is not a brain stem function as they suggest).All the information that I have received states that even people in a coma can hear, and feel. When they wake up from the coma they can relate what has been said around them and what they felt.

Terri is NOT in a coma. She is aware of her family. She is NOT on life support (a ventilator). She is being fed and given liquid through a tube. The feeding tube is encouraged by the doctors to make it easier on the caregivers. Her history states that she has not had therapies for years.

Therapists will tell you that they work hard to help the person learn how to swallow again and receive nourishment by mouth. The feeding tube is usually temporary. If the person definitely cannot be rehabilitated ( which has never been proven about Terri), then feeding tubes are used along with swallowing therapies. Why isn't Terri given that option?

Our family and my son's therapist have worked extensively with him to keep him eating food by mouth because of the ignorance concerning feeding tubes -- including at times in the medical field.

My son's medical team has always been supportive of his care and rehabilitation. You can see why families in the future would be concerned about this lack of education concerning feeding tubes. Where is the support for Terri?

Brain-injured people do feel pain. A veterinarian would never consider taking food and water away from an animal in his/her care. It is an agonizing and slow way to die. They would say it was inhumane to starve an animal. What about a person who cannot speak for themselves? Many philosophers state that you can tell the level of development of a society by the way that they treat persons with disabilities. I trust that our society has not reached that low level.
Susan Watson, Dover, Fl

When I look at Terri, I am seeing my mother, or my friend's daughter. I am horrified that because of her disability, people assume and think that she should be allowed to die.

My mother had an aneurysm compounded with a stroke at the age of 38 -- 28 years ago. We were told the following: "She will never walk will not be able to take care of herself."

My mom is paralyzed on her right side and is aphasic, which is the inability to use or understand language because of a brain lesion. When she first came home after three months in the hospital, and after intense physical therapy, she was not able to communicate except thought moans and squeals. She has limited vocabulary today but guess what you listen hard enough you can understand what she trying to say.

My point is this: you don't give up on someone because it is inconvenient to you. We are "our brother's keeper." Sarah, my friend's daughter, is severely handicapped in that she communicates her feelings by moans, groans, and squeals.

She also has a feeding tube, because feeding via mouth causes severe acid reflux and was very painful to Sarah. Sarah tried to convey this via screams when ever she was fed. Because of limited ability to communicate, it took awhile for the doctors to determine what the problem was. Sarah is now happier, but she is dependent on the feeding tube. Does that give her parents license to murder her because she is on "life support"? NO!

Just because you cannot speak, and must convey your thoughts to those around you, doesn't mean you don't think or feel. Imagine the torture it is to be thinking and living, but because you can't respond back to the caregiver's definition of communication and living that you will be sentenced to death as a matter of the caregiver's convenience. Animals are treated better than this!

How can ANYONE justify starving someone to death? This is truly a travesty and a sad testament when there are people who see nothing wrong with this -- and I have heard people from the medical community sanctifying this action!
Dawn Mau, Dousman, WI

Your article was horribly biased. Terri's husband was made out to sound like a terrible person. Never was it mentioned in your article that he lost his wife 13 years ago. I'm sure he wasn't jumping for joy about that. You can't blame a man for wanting to get past his grief 13 years later. She's been mourned. And I'm sure her husband's life has been hell for these 13 years.

Terri is not going to recover. All the "examples" cited in this article that suggest that she is not in a coma were not conclusive at all. No conscious thought is required to open your eyes. Terri's personality, her critical thinking skills, are gone. She's nothing more than a living body now. Her "soul" has moved on. Why can't people let her go? In a story like this, both sides of the issue should be presented.
Kacy, Kansas City, MO

What has happened to our system where we take a life just because the husband wants the money?
Michelle Davis, Columbiana, AL

This is outrageous! How can this be happening? We might as well go into every nursing home and kill 90 percent of the patients there! .
Joyce Tumaniszwili, Orlando, FL

Didn't our court system send a man to jail not too long ago by the name of Dr. Kevorkian who at the request of the patients killed them in the name of humanity to stop their suffering? How dare we determine whether one's life is worth living or not, and then end it, whether they are terminal or whether they seem unresponsive?
Sue Crawford, St. George, UT

I am outraged that Terri Shiavo will be allowed to die. Is this what America does with its weak, infirm and disabled? Do we just throw them away? Whose next the elderly? Where will it stop?
Lynne Frederick

I think that you should let Terri die. Who wants to live their life that way? Put yourself in that position. Would you like to be a vegetable? I don't think so.
Emily Williams, Waukesha, WI

While I am not a medical expert, the videos of Terri following the balloon, looking at her mother and listening to music sure don't look like someone in a permanent vegetative state to me. My vision of that condition would be no motion, no reaction, no communication of any kind. While Terri does not seem to have a good quality of life, at least she seems to have some quality of life. Personally, I would not like to continue life if I were in her state, but, as long as she has family and people who will care for her then I think she should not be euthanized.

I am particularly concerned that it appears no one has taken the steps to provide her with any kind of rehabilitation. I am also concerned and suspicious of the circumstances where no other doctors are allowed to examine Terri. It looks to me, from what I have read on Terri's page, like there should be a thorough investigation of not only the circumstances concerning how Terri got this way in the first place (Are the bone scans legitimate, and could there be other possible explanations for her bone damage other that spousal abuse?), but also how she may or may not have been abused by the system in the past 10 years.
Bill Lorton, San Jose, CA

Wonderful article. I have also noticed this "pro-death bias" in the media and find it to be reminiscent of Nazi Germany and early institutional thinking. Fortunately, I managed to keep myself from watching the late night coverage you described in your article. I was afraid to wake the entire household with my screaming at the telly, "Comatose ? Vegetative? A feeding tube is life support?!?!?"

I find this all to be surreal, almost as if I am in a nightmarish time-warp. Perhaps the younger ones amongst us can save a copy of this coverage, then confront the offenders with it when they are gracefully gliding through their final years in a posh nursing home facility. Perhaps they will have a different view of who is "worthy" of assisted nutrition, what is/what is not a good way to die and who decides what day that happens on.
Melanie Kozel, Edmonton, Alberta

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