19 March 2005

Misinformation campaign continues

As the Republican leadership in Washington, religious fundamentalists, and FOX News work overtime to spread misinformation to the American people regarding the Terri Schiavo tragedy, it becomes imperative that those who cherish freedom and liberty learn the truth about this important issue. Let's look at the ridiculous claims made by the special interest groups seeking to overrule Terri's wishes.

CLAIM #1: Terri never wished to be kept off of life support and this is only the word of one person, her husband Michael Schiavo.

The courts have found "clear and convincing evidence," which is the highest standard of proof in civil law, to suggest that Terri Schiavo did not wish to be kept alive by life support. (Under Florida law, feeding tubes are considered life support.) Three witnesses, not just Michael Schiavo, testified under oath that Terri never wanted to be kept on life support. Terri told her husband on numerous occasions that she never wanted to be kept alive "on anything artificial" and that she did "not want to live like that." After watching a movie with her best friend Joan about an athlete that was kept alive by artificial means, Terri stated that she "would not want to go through that" and that she "would want the tubes and everything taken out." When Michael's grandmother was kept alive by a respirator, Terri stated that the grandmother was "pretty much gone" and stated to her brother-in-law, "If I ever go like that, just let me go. Don't leave me there. I don't want to be kept alive on a machine."

CLAIM #2: Terri can recover from her condition if she receives adequate therapy.

In 2000 and again in 2003, the guardianship court concluded "beyond all doubt that [Terri] is in a persistent vegetative state" with "no hope of ever regaining consciousness." Schindler attorney David Gibbs has been stating on television that Terri is simply disabled and likens her condition to that of one who is a paraplegic. This statement contradicts the findings of the guardianship court, which the state appellate court praised, stating that "It is likely that no guardianship court has ever received as much high-quality medical evidence."

The comments by Mr. Gibbs are fueled by those who have seen the same video footage of Terri on television. Unfortunately, this footage is approximately 30 - 45 seconds of six hours of video. The groups supporting Terri's parents have selected the most persuasive footage and have discarded the remaining 5 hours and 59 minutes of video which shows a completely different Terri Schiavo. The actions by Terri in the video are simply reflexive and not the result of any cognitive thought.

CLAIM #3: Terri has not received adequate due process under the law.

Terri Schiavo's case has been reviewed by so many judges that her due process rights have received more than typical attention by our nation and state's judiciary. The special interest groups supporting the parents would like you to believe that one jurist, Judge Greer, has unilaterally decided how to decide Terri's fate. This is not true. Terri's case has been reviewed by jurists seated on the state circuit court, the state appellate court, the Florida Supreme Court, a federal district court, and the United States Supreme Court. Additionally, three independent attorneys have been assigned to Terri to ensure that her interests were protected.

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