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Sign a memorial guest book for Terri Schiavo (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)




Rest in Peace, Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo has died.

The woman at the center of a 15-year right-to-die, right-to-life battle died on Thursday, March 31 -- her death reported to journalists by George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo. She had held onto life, without food or water, since March 18. Her death came hours after the last legal appeal had been rebuffed, leading some to wonder if indeed she had a consciousness that her options had irrevocably ended. She was 41.

News coverage of Schiavo's last days and her parents' frantic but unsuccessful legal appeals for awhile eclipsed virtually all other domestic news.

It remains to be seen what long term effects it will all have.

Toward the end, the organized U.S. disability rights movement mounted an effort to be heard above the right-to-die and right-to-life rhetoric that had driven the public debate over the woman referred to as "brain-damaged." Terri Schiavo, they said, had a right to constitutional protection; she was disabled; and society was too quick to write off people in her condition. Except, they said, nobody truly knew what her "condition" was.

The word "Schiavo" in Italian means "slave." Toward the end, there were those who were starting to compare legal rulings upholding the Florida district court decision to order Schiavo's feeding tube removed to the Dred Scott decision.

Dred Scott was an African-American slave taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin, where he lived for years. When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him; after the master died, anti-slavery lawyers helped Scott sue for his freedom. In March, 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court, whose chief justice was a former slave owner, ruled that no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen and thus had no rights and must remain a slave. At that time there were nearly 4 million slaves in America.

CARTOON: Theresa Whitehurst





Posted March 31, 2005

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