Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 27, 2003
Fla. woman gets back feeding tube
Edmonton pro-lifer helpd save Schiavo
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
In a move her sister called "an absolute miracle," Terri Schindler Schiavo was receiving fluids at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla., Oct. 22 after an executive order by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rescinded the removal of her feeding tube.
Bush's action came after the Florida Legislature passed a law allowing the governor's intervention in cases like Schiavo's - when the patient left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state and has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed and where a family member has challenged the removal.
Mark Pickup, founder of the Edmonton-based disabled advocacy group, HumanLifeMatters, said the Florida governor's office received 50,000 emails and 140,000 petitions demanding the governor support Schiavo's right to life.
Pickup took up the fight to save Schiavo, 39, from a court-approved euthanasia order by petitioning Edmonton MP David Kilgour for Canada to provide Schiavo with temporary asylum.
The public outcry against a Florida judge's decision to allow Schiavo's feeding tube to be removed is a testament to human decency, says Pickup.
"What this has done is what people have suspected for a very long time - that people with severe disabilities are being discounted and, in fact, denied treatment. The question we must now ask ourselves is, 'Is this how we want to treat the most vulnerable?'"
Pickup, who is afflicted with multiple sclerosis, said Kilgour should receive kudos for sticking up for Schiavo.
Kilgour had filed a letter to Immigration Minister David Coderre asking the minister to consider granting "temporary asylum" to the woman until the matter is resolved. Coderre said no.
Schiavo has spent 13 years in various Florida health care facilities in what some doctors have said is a semi-vegetative state. However, Schiavo laughs, sits up and responds to others around her.
Michael Schiavo, her husband, won $750,000 for his wife's future medical care and rehabilitation in a 1992 medical malpractice suit. Since 1993 he has tried to have her removed from artificial life care saying his wife told him to forgo artificial life assistance years before the brain injury occurred.
On Feb. 11, 2000, Florida Judge George Greer upheld the husband's right as legal guardian, allowing him - not her parents - to select the woman's doctors and the life-extending medical treatments that she was to receive.
Her parents had petitioned against all such rulings based upon the allegation that their daughter's husband may have caused his wife's medical status to suffer through possible abuse and subsequent secrecy about her treatment and location.
He was allowed recently to bar her parents from her bedside, while police at the hospice threatened to arrest her priest if he tried to administer the Eucharist.
Michael Schiavo stands to inherit his wife's estate and plans to remarry when she dies.
Pickup said the Canadian government told him it considered this an American issue and they would not get involved.
"This is totally inadequate - totally inappropriate for a government that prides itself in being part of a global community. They talk about universal human rights. They can't then turn around when it's convenient and say, 'Oh, that's an American issue.'
"We were co-signers of the United Nation's universal declaration of human rights. That whole document uses the language of the human family - borderless," he said.
Kilgour had just received an email from Pickup advising him of the Florida decision when he spoke with the WCR.
The joy he expressed echoed Pickup's.
"This is a far better solution than temporary asylum. It's better for her parents and her friends. I'm just delighted this has happened," Kilgour said.
"Mark Pickup is a fantastic Canadian. He never gives up. I think he is a big reason for what happened down there."
The Florida Catholic bishops had urged that artificial nutrition and hydration be continued until "a more clear understanding of her actual physical condition" could be reached.
(With files from Catholic News Service)