Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network: A Lasting Legacy

By Dave Andrusko

“The death of Terri Schindler Schiavo in 2005 is a distant memory for most Americans. But for the family that spent seven years fighting Terri’s estranged husband and the court system to stop the starvation of their daughter and sister, recollections of the 13 days Terri lingered without food or water before finally succumbing to death remain vivid and painful.”
     —  From “Terri’s Fight Continues,” by Colleen Carroll Campbell.

I’m hoping that many of you are taking advantage of the opportunity to purchase an entire set of the CDs from the 2011 National Right to Life Convention, or, in lieu of that, choose from the rich menu of 70+workshops, a host of general sessions, a Prayer Breakfast, and a closing banquet. (You can find a complete list of the CDs here.)

One of my very favorite general sessions featured Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, and her sister, Suzanne Vitadamo. “Withholding” food and water sounds almost clinical until you hear the family describe what Terri went through in 2005 and the gash on their hearts left by her wholly unnecessary death.

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a very talented writer who, among many other things, contributes a column to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. She has a new piece headlined “Terri’s fight continues.”

She does a wonderful job bringing readers up to date on the remarkable Schindler family, which includes their late father, Robert Schindler, and their mother, Mary Schindler. Bobby and Suzanne now work full time for Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, a non-profit group that advocates for disabled patients threatened by health-care rationing and euthanasia.

“Terri’s family now hopes to spare others the agony they endured,” Campbell writes. “Their network serves as a 24-hour resource center to connect families facing similarly life-threatening situations with physicians and attorneys willing to help them defend incapacitated loved ones.”

And they do need to be on call all the time. According to Bobby, who serves as executive director, they have participated in “hundreds of cases, including some involving authoritarian ethics committees that serve as de facto ‘death panels’ for patients deemed too burdensome and hopeless to merit continued care or even food and water.”

Campbell’s is a wonderful account of a deeply devout and deeply dedicated family. Please a few minutes to read the story which has a very powerful ending:

“And, as the Schindler family knows from painful personal experience, the combination of a cost-cutting medical establishment and a culture unable to recognize the innate human dignity of the cognitively disabled can be volatile mix — one with heartbreaking and lethal consequences.”

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