Brain-Damaged Florida Woman Given Last Rites



Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the center of a legal controversy in the United States, has been given last rites and Easter communion, at her hospice in the U.S. state of Florida.  Ms. Schiavo's parents have given up legal appeals to keep her alive.

Both Federal and Florida State courts repeatedly denied motions last week by Bob and Mary Schindler, the parents of Terri Schiavo, to re-attach their daughter's feeding tube. The Schindlers have now gone into seclusion to await their daughter's death, and have appealed to their supporters to suspend public demonstrations in front of the hospice where she is bedridden.

On Monday, the Schindler's spiritual advisor and defacto spokesman, Paul O'Donnell, a Roman Catholic Franciscan monk, told reporters he believes Terri Schiavo's death is not imminent.

"Everyone is willing to write this woman's obituary except one person, and that is Terri Schiavo herself. She is alert, she is awake and she is fighting for her life," Paul  O'Donnell said.

The feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive was disconnected more than 10 days ago after years of litigation between her husband Michael, who is her legal guardian, and her parents. Mr. Schiavo's position, that his wife told him and others that she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means, has been consistently upheld by both federal and state courts.

On Monday, Paul O'Donnell, made another plea to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to place Terri Schiavo in protective custody, something Florida courts have forbidden him to do.

"Bob and Mary Schindler are begging Governor Bush to step in and take custody of Terri. We have heard that he has the legal authority," he said.

Speaking at a recent impromptu news conference in his office, Governor Bush said he had done all he could do to keep Terri Schiavo alive and that his powers are limited.

"They [Schindlers] are acting on their heart and I fully appreciate their sentiments and the emotions that go with this. But, I have consistently said I cannot go beyond what my powers are. I am not going to do it," he said.

George Felos, the lawyer for Michael Schiavo says his client is also in seclusion. Both Ms. Schiavo's parents and her husband are keeping a death vigil at her bedside, but they visit her at different time to avoid conflict. Mr. Felos told reporters he was surprised the case went on for more than a decade, but that he believes it was about a fundamental right of Americans to live and die as they choose.

"I firmly believe in the right of individuals to make their own medical treatment choices, and that this is not an area where the state has an interest in being involved," he said. "I certainly never expected this case would take as long as it did but I have always felt that we would be letting Terri down if we did not carry it through and have her wishes carried out."

Police have arrested a number of protesters over the past several days at the hospice where Terri Schiavo is spending her last hours. Federal law enforcement authorities have detained several individuals who allegedly threatened the lives of Michael Schiavo and the Florida judge who ruled to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube disconnected.

On Monday, local authorities in Pinellas Park, Florida canceled the re-opening of an elementary school that is near the hospice, saying they were worried about possible disturbances in the area.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs