By Kathleen Gilbert
PINELLAS PARK, Florida, March 31, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the fifth anniversary of the court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler Schiavo, Terri’s family, pro-life leaders and anti-euthanasia advocates have united to call attention to the silent abuse of people with disabilities, and the new dangers posed by the recently-passed federal health care reform legislation.
The Christian Defense Coalition, Faith and Action and Generation Life announced they will pray and leave a single rose on the public sidewalk in front of the Pennsylvania Ave. NW side of the White House to commemorate Terri's death. The groups also reminded Americans that President Obama later called it a “mistake” that, as a U.S. Senator, he had supported Congress' decision to try to save Terri from death.
“End of life issues are a deep concern in this new health care legislation,” said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and one of the leaders who worked to save Terri's life in Florida, in a press release Tuesday.
“Simply put, how can the American public trust the President and his Administration to deal compassionately with end of life issues when he considered it a 'mistake' to have intervened in attempting to keep a young woman from being starved and dehydrated?”
“Nothing arrested the conscience of the nation like Terri's suffering and needless death,” said Rev. Rob Schenck, President of Faith and Action. “Now, she continues her ministry by provoking us all to appreciate and value the worth and dignity of brain injury victims.”
Generation Life director Brandi Swindell, who engaged in a 14-day hunger strike while Terri was starved, said that, “as a young woman, my heart broke every day outside of Terri's room thinking about the pain and suffering she was experiencing.”
“As a nation, we must offer the most needy of our society compassion, dignity and justice. Regrettably, we forced Terri to die the most painful and barbaric of deaths,” said Swindell. “My hope is that we have learned valuable lessons from Terri's death and how we treat the disabled. Those lessons must be founded on equality and human rights for all.”
Terri's father, Bob Schindler, did not live to see the fifth anniversary of his daughter's death: the family mourned Mr. Schindler's death of heart failure in August. Terri's mother, Mary Schindler, is still living.
Another blow was delivered to Terri's family earlier this month when an episode of FOX's “Family Guy” mocked the death of their loved one in an episode entitled “Terri Schiavo: The Musical.” The show depicted Terri hooked up to various life-support systems and declared her a “vegetable,” when in reality Terri required nothing more than a feeding tube and was awake and responsive at the time of her death. Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother and founder of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, said the episode left him “astonished at the producer’s cruel bigotry directed towards my sister and all cognitively disabled people.”
“I wish I could say things have changed for the better since my sister’s death or that people with cognitive disabilities are now better protected in response to the horror she had to endure,” said Schindler in an article for Townhall.com Wednesday. “Tragically, however, it seems the rights of the brain-injured, elderly and others are still being violated.”
While “the 'death panels' Sarah Palin spoke of sounded like bombastic language,” he noted, “many hospitals and facilities already have something frighteningly similar.” “Ethics committees are making many life and death decisions about patients, including whether to withhold simple provisions,” he said. “In a seemingly clandestine way, these ethics committees – comprised of medical and legal professionals – are empowering facilities to make life and death decisions independent of the family or a person’s own wishes.
“The chilling stories we receive make it clear few citizens have any idea how vulnerable they are when it comes to judgments left in the hands of these ethics committees and facilities,” he said. “And with the federal government now controlling our health care, there is no reason not to believe that these types of committees won’t become nationalized. Particularly when a health care system has been sabotaged by cost factors and quality of life judgments.”
Schindler expressed concern with the health care rationing that now looms on a national scale following passage of the federal health care bill.
“I think it's very easy to see people like my sister in the crosshairs,” Schindler told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview Wednesday.
“These types of ethics committees are going to become nationalized … it seems to me that it comes down to cost,” he said. “Look at assisted suicide – think about the cost of handing somebody some pills to kill themselves, compared to the cost of perhaps giving them the availability of prolonging their lives, if they do have some type of terminal illness.”
Schindler pointed out the danger of allowing an administration filled with people who “have no regard for the value of life” to dictate the guidelines for health care on a wide scale. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose office is granted sweeping new powers and responsibilities in determining health care guidelines by the new health care legislation, is radically pro-abortion.
“The health care reform is going to reflect their values,” said Schindler. “If we have an administration that doesn't value life, then how can we expect it to value life when it comes to whether or not they should care for people like my sister?”
Dr. Mark Mostert of the Institute for the Study of Disabilities & Bioethics commemorated Terri's “legalized medical execution” on his blog Tuesday.
“[H]ere we are five years later. Disability groups trash the Schindlers. The President of the United States thinks intervening to help avoid Terri’s execution was a mistake,” wrote Mostert. “Now what?
“Here’s what: Never, ever, let Terri’s memory and her martyrdom be forgotten.”
Terri's Life and Hope Concert, featuring Randy Travis and Collin Raye, will be held on April 11th in Indianapolis, Indiana. The concert will benefit the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated, who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations.
Click here for information on Terri's Life and Hope Concert.
Click here to read Fr. Pavone's National Catholic Register column.
Click here to read Bobby Schindler's Townhall.com column.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Terri Schiavo Mocked on FOX's Family Guy
Bob Schindler, Father of Terri Schiavo and Tireless Fighter for Disabled Persons Right to Life, Passes Away
Bobby Schindler’s Letter to Florida Bishop: When Bishops Don’t Do Their Job – Innocent People Die
Terri Schiavo – Denied Rehab, Food, Water, Holy Communion and Now a Christian Burial