Human Exceptionalism

Boo Hoo, Poor Michael Schiavo

Ever since Jeb Bush made noises about running for president, Michael Schiavo–who won a court ruling having his wife dehydrated to death–has been bashing Bush for trying to save Terri’s life.

Now, in Politico, a totally one-sided report has Schiavo feeling sorry for himself. From, “Jeb Bush Put me Through Hell:”

For years, the self-described “average Joe” felt harassed, targeted and tormented by the most important person in the state.“It was a living hell,” he said, “and I blame him.”

Some, might say his wife was put through hell, being forced to die slowly of loss of body fluids over two weeks.

But let’s explore some points the story conveniently omits or quickly passes over:

– He wasn’t exactly a loyal husband. Schiavo dated other women during her disability. Moreover, he lived with his “fiance” for years before and during the Terri Schiavo court fights, siring two children with her before Terri died.  Many would not hold that against him. But given those facts, I wonder who she would have wanted to decide her life and death: A man who had a family with another woman he couldn’t legally marry because of she was still alive or her blood family?

– He told a medical malpractice jury he would care for Terri for the rest of her life, continue to provide rehabilitation, and presented expert testimony she could live a normal life span. Once the money was in her account, he decided she wouldn’t want to live in  such a compromised state–a little matter he apparently forgot to tell the jury. Within months of the end of the legal case, he reportedly informed her father that there would be no further rehabilitation and tried to withhold antibiotics from Terri after she developed an infection, setting off the first legal fight with her parents.

– A guardian ad litem appointed in the original food and fluids case opined that Terri should not have her food and water removed. The trial judge dismissed the guardian at Michael’s request and never appointed another–contrary to Florida statutory law. 

– Michael went years without filing legally required reports to the court about his plans for Terri’s future care. The judge didn’t mind. Such was the “rule of Terri’s case.” The usual standards did not apply.

– He told a court official in 1993–in the antibiotics case–that he had taken her wedding and engagement rings melted down and made into a ring for himself. 

– He had her cats put down.

Michael used Terri’s money, with the approval of the court, to prosecute the legal case culminating in her death.

– As Terri was dying of dehydration, she wasn’t even allowed ice chips in her mouth.

– And this one has been bothering me for years: Schiavo put these words on Terri’s tombstone: “I kept my promise.” Who puts an honorific about oneself on someone else’s tombstone?

The effort to save Terri Schiavo’s life was entirely bipartisan, including cooperation from those rigid fundamentalist Christian Republicans, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Tom Harkin. But never mind: Politics.

The story contains examples of horrible and inexcusable threats made against Michael and his family–including slurs against his children. Those were evil and inexcusable. So were similarly vicious threats against her blood family, the Schindlers, for trying to save her life. 

Other than that, I don’t feel sorry for Michael Schiavo. His late wife, yes. She died with blood pooling in her eyes. His in-laws, to be certain. Bob Schindler never recovered from the terrible loss of his daughter and followed her in death a few years later. But feel sorry for Michael? Sorry.

But Wesley, you are bringing attention to him again! No, he is. I just can’t let it ever be thought that the equities in the Terri Schiavo Case were all on his side. Not. Even. Close.


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