|Birthname||Theresa Marie Schindler|
|born on||3 December 1963|
|Place||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 39n57, 75w10|
|Timezone||EST h5w (is standard time)|
American who became the subject of a landmark case, a bitter legal battle between her husband and parents over her right to die that involved each of the three branches of the US Government. Over 19 judges, several years of court cases, and even the US Congress and President became involved in this attention-getting case that accentuated ethical and legal issues in contemporary society.
Schiavo was the oldest of three children of Robert and Mary Schindler. While she was a student at college, she met her future husband Michael Richard Schiavo (born April 3, 1963 in Levittown, PA, the youngest of five boys). They married on November 10, 1984. She was considered a sweet and shy person who liked animals. Heavy as a child, weighing as much as 200 pounds, she dieted intensely, down to a low of 110 pounds. Later, one of her friends would suggest that Schiavo developed her eating disorder because she was afraid that her husband would leave her if she again became overweight.
On February 25, 1990, Schiavo collapsed on the floor in the hallway outside her bedroom. Doctors believed that her eating disorder led to a severe potassium imbalance that stopped her heart. She suffered severe brain damage and never recovered her faculties; she has been kept alive through a feeding tube.
Her husband Michael and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were very close early on, all involved in Terri’s care. In 1992, her husband won a medical malpractice suit against a physician for not diagnosing Terri’s eating disorder. In 1994, he signed a “do not resuscitate order” after Terri contracted a urinary tract infection. He ordered the nursing home not to treat the infection but he withdrew his request upon medical advice. The relationship between Terri’s husband and her parents began to fray.
In 1998, Michael petitioned the Florida courts to remove the feeding tube and let her die. Her parents launched a bitter and public movement to keep their daughter alive, saying that she reacts to them with facial expressions and follows them with her eyes. Doctors have characterized her condition as persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery and have called her eye movements and expressions involuntary. As time passed, doctors pointed to increased deterioration in her brain.
During their numerous court appearances Schiavo’s parents accused her husband of wanting to cash in on her sizeable estate that includes the medical malpractice settlement. Her parents additionally claimed that Terri had been unhappy in her marriage. They have claimed she would want to live and explained that her wishes are in keeping with their Roman Catholic faith. Her husband argues that before her heart attack she had indicated to him that she would not want to remain on life support and would prefer to die. He has offered to give the remainder of Terri’s estate to charity if her parents would just agree to let her go. He claims the Schindlers became hostile to him after he received the malpractice settlement, which he did not share with them. They stopped talking to each other in 1993, and their relationship deteriorated further after he began dating Jodi Centronze with whom he has had two children. He reportedly visits Terri every day.
In February 2000, a judge for a Florida county circuit court, George W. Greer, appointed Michael Schiavo as custodian and allowed for the feeding tube to be removed. However, by March the same judge put a stay on his verdict until appeals could be exhausted. On April 24, 2001 after the parents' bids for appeals had been denied, the feeding tube was removed but reconnected a few days later when Schiavo’s parents filed an additional lawsuit. In August, after further review by the legal system, the courts ordered that the feeding tube be removed on August 28, 2001 at 3 PM EDT. However, due to legal petitions and appeals, Teri Schiavo's life support system remained in place.
In mid-October 2002, the Florida courts sided with the husband and approved the removal of the feeding tube. In November, a judge ordered that the feeding tube be removed at 3 PM on January 3, 2003. But a month before, on December 3, 2002, another judge ruled that the feeding tube should not be removed until the parents had made further appeals. In August 2003, Terri battled another infection. Her husband wanted treatment withheld because the judge had scheduled a hearing on September 11 to determine whether she would be allowed to die. The judge ruled that she must be treated aggressively until a final ruling had been made. On October 15, 2003, the feeding tube was removed under order of the court. But the parents appealed to Florida Governor Jeb Bush who stepped in and ordered that the feeding tube be reinserted. Once more, on October 21, Terri was receiving nourishment through a tube in her abdomen.
Schiavo’s parents and husband continued to take their battle through the legal system. The Schindlers fought to gain custody and accused Michael of abuse. They enlisted the aid of a social services agency who asked for time to investigate. The courts were moving ahead, however. In January 2005 the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case. On February 25, 2005, Judge Greer again gave approval to remove the feeding tube, and on March 18, 2005, his order was carried out. Terri was expected to die in 7-14 days. But in the meantime, the US Congress convened, and passed a bill, allowing her parents to take their appeal to a federal court. At 1:11 AM EST on March 21, 2005, President Bush signed the bill. On March 22, 2005, a federal judge upheld earlier judicial rulings, refusing to order a reinsertion of the feeding tube. The Schindlers persist in their battle for Terri’s life, lodging complaints and appeals; pro-life activists and religious conservatives protest outside Terri’s hospice; discussions of government involvement, health care proxies and morality abound; and news coverage and public debate of the case continue.
The woman whose situation caused a national debate died on March 31, 2005 at about 9:05 AM in a Pinellas Park, FL hospice. Her husband and parents continued their feud, now over her remains. After her autopsy, her husband had her body cremated and buried in Pennsylvania; her parents wanted her remains to be buried in Florida where they could visit her grave and had a separate funeral service for her.
PT quotes media sources including CNN; town unknown. CNN gives "the Philadelphia suburbs." A Tampa, FL Tribune said "she grows up in the Philadelphia suburb of Huntingdon Valley."
- Traits : Personality : Shy
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Brain
- Diagnoses : Psychological : Eating Disorder
- Family : Childhood : Family supportive
- Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Oldest of three)
- Family : Parenting : Kids none