Father and Daughter Reunited
Robert Schindler,Sr., the father of Terri Schiavo has died. National Right to Life has released this letter:
“NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE MOURNS THE LOSS OF ROBERT SCHINDLER, SR.
WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life group, today joined with pro-lifers nationwide in mourning the passing of our dear friend Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schindler Schiavo. Mr. Schindler died this morning in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend,” said Wanda Franz, Ph.D., National Right to Life President. “His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne.”
Despite facing legal setbacks at virtually every turn, the Schindlers, with their children at their side, fought unceasingly to defend the right of their daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo, to receive food and fluids. Their brave struggle ended on March 31, 2005, when Terri died from a court-ordered withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.
Following Terri’s death, the family began advocating for other medically dependent and disabled patients facing similar circumstances through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.
In 2007, the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund honored the Schindler family with the Proudly Pro-Life Award for their dedication and public witness to the cause of life.
“In life, Bob, and his wife Mary, never sought the spotlight. They only wished to care for their beloved daughter, Terri. Through their selfless dedication to Terri, they showed the nation and the world what it means when someone says they are ‘pro-life’,” added David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., National Right to Life Executive Director.
The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest pro-life group is a federation of affiliates in all 50 states and 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
Terri Schiavo of course was judicially murdered by the State of Florida in 2005 at the behest of her “loving husband”, Michael Schiavo. A few comments about that judicial travesty:
1. Terri Schiavo was clearly not in a persistant vegetative state. The testimony of her caregivers revealed this and the videos taken of her clearly showed that she was awake and aware of her surroundings.
2. She made no written declaration, such as a living will or a power of attorney for health care, as to whether she would wish to have food and water withheld in this type of situation.
3. The court’s reliance on self-serving statements by the husband, his brother and the wife of his brother as to her intentions while ignoring the contra statements of all of her blood relatives is absurd. These statements were brought up only after Michael Schiavo decided to have his wife slain by dehydration and the statements of his brother and his brother’s wife were miraculously recalled after it was brought to Mr. Schiavo’s attention that his statement alone might well be legally insufficient to determine the intent of Terri Schiavo.
4. Judge Greer ignored the affidavits of three of the caretakers of Terri Schiavo. The affidavits are as follows:
STATE OF FLORIDA )
COUNTY OF PINELLAS )
BEFORE ME the undersigned authority personally appeared CARLA
SAUER IYER, R.N., who being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
1. My name is Carla Sauer Iyer. I am over the age of eighteen and make
this statement of my own personal knowledge.
2. I am a registered nurse in the State of Florida, having been licensed
continuously in Florida from 1997 to the present. Prior to that I was a
Licensed Practical Nurse for about four years.
3. I was employed at Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in
Largo, Florida from April 1995 to July 1996, while Terri Schiavo
was a patient there.
4. It was clear to me at Palm Gardens that all decisions regarding Terri
Schiavo were made by Michael Schiavo, with no allowance made for
any discussion, debate or normal professional judgment. My initial
training there consisted solely of the instruction “Do what Michael
Schiavo tells you or you will be terminated.” This struck me as
5. I was very disturbed by the decision making protocol, as no allowance
whatsoever was made for professional responsibility. The atmosphere
throughout the facility was dominated by Mr. Schiavo’s intimidation.
Everyone there, with the exception of several people who seemed to be
close to Michael, was intimidated by him. Michael Schiavo always
had an overbearing attitude, yelling numerous times such things as
“This is my order and you’re going to follow it.” He is very large and
uses menacing body language, such as standing too close to you,
getting right in your face and practically shouting.
6. To the best of my recollection, rehabilitation had been ordered for
Terri, but I never saw any being done or had any reason at all to
believe that there was ever any rehab of Terri done at Palm Gardens
while I was there. I became concerned because Michael wanted
nothing done for Terri at all, no antibiotics, no tests, no range of
motion therapy, no stimulation, no nothing. Michael said again and
again that Terri should NOT get any rehab, that there should be no
range of motion whatsoever, or anything else. I and a CNA named
Roxy would give Terri range of motion anyway. One time I put a
wash cloth in Terri’s hand to keep her fingers from curling together,
and Michael saw it and made me take it out, saying that was therapy.
7. Terri’s medical condition was systematically distorted and
misrepresented by Michael. When I worked with her, she was alert
and oriented. Terri spoke on a regular basis while in my presence,
saying such things as “mommy,” and “help me.” “Help me” was, in
fact, one of her most frequent utterances. I heard her say it hundreds
of times. Terri would try to say the word “pain” when she was in
discomfort, but it came out more like “pay.” She didn’t say the “n”
sound very well. During her menses she would indicate her discomfort
by saying “pay” and moving her arms toward her lower abdominal
area. Other ways that she would indicate that she was in pain included
pursing her lips, grimacing, thrashing in bed, curling her toes or
moving her legs around. She would let you know when she had a
bowel movement by flipping up the covers and pulling on her diaper
and scooted in bed on her bottom.
8. When I came into her room and said “Hi, Terri”, she would always
recognize my voice and her name, and would turn her head all the way
toward me, saying “Haaaiiiii” sort of, as she did. I recognized this as a
“hi”, which is very close to what it sounded like, the whole sound being only a second or two long.
When I told her humorous stories about my life or something I read in the paper,
Terri would chuckle, sometimes more a giggle or laugh. She would move her whole body,
upper and lower. Her legs would sometimes be off the bed, and need
to be repositioned. I made numerous entries into the nursing notes in
her chart, stating verbatim what she said and her various behaviors, but
by my next on-duty shift, the notes would be deleted from her chart.
Every time I made a positive entry about any responsiveness of Terri’s,
someone would remove it after my shift ended. Michael always
demanded to see her chart as soon as he arrived, and would take it in
her room with him. I documented Terri’s rehab potential well,
writing whole pages about Terri’s responsiveness, but they would
always be deleted by the next time I saw her chart. The reason I wrote
so much was that everybody else seemed to be afraid to make positive
entries for fear of their jobs, but I felt very strongly that a nurses job
was to accurately record everything we see and hear that bears on a
patients condition and their family. I upheld the Nurses Practice Act,
and if it cost me my job, I was willing to accept that.
9. Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri’s death.
Michael would say “When is she going to die?,”
“Has she died yet?” and “When is that bitch gonna die?” These
statements were common knowledge at Palm Gardens, as he would
make them casually in passing, without regard even for who he was
talking to, as long as it was a staff member. Other statements which I
recall him making include “Can’t anything be done to accelerate her
death – won’t she ever die?” When she wouldn’t die, Michael would
be furious. Michael was also adamant that the family should not be
given information. He made numerous statements such as “Make sure
the parents aren’t contacted.” I recorded Michael’s statements word
for word in Terri’s chart, but these entries were also deleted after the
end of my shift. Standing orders were that the family wasn’t to be
contacted, in fact, there was a large sign in the front of her chart that
said under no circumstances was her family to be called, call Michael
immediately, but I would call them, anyway, because I thought they
should know about their daughter.
10. Any time Terri would be sick, like with a UTI or fluid buildup in her
lungs, colds, or pneumonia, Michael would be visibly excited, thrilled
even, hoping that she would die. He would say something like,”Hallelujah! You’ve made my day!”
He would call me, as I was the nurse supervisor on the floor, and ask
for every little detail about her temperature, blood pressure, etc., and would call back frequently asking if she was dead yet. He would blurt out “I’m going to be rich!”
and would talk about all the things he would buy when Terri died,
which included a new car, a new boat, and going to Europe, among
11. When Michael visited Terri, he always came alone and always had the
door closed and locked while he was with Terri. He would typically
be there about twenty minutes or so. When he left Terri would be
trembling, crying hysterically, and would be very pale and have cold
sweats. It looked to me like Terri was having a hypoglycemic reaction,
so I’d check her blood sugar. The glucometer reading would be so low
it was below the range where it would register an actual number
reading. I would put dextrose in Terri’s mouth to counteract it. This
happened about five times on my shift, as I recall. Normally Terri’s
blood sugar levels were very stable due to the uniformity of her diet
through tube feeding. It is medically possible that Michael injected
Terri with Regular insulin, which is very fast acting, but I don’t have any way of knowing for sure.
12. The longer I was employed at Palm Gardens the more concerned I
became about patient care, both relating to Terri Schiavo, for the
reasons I’ve said, and other patients, too. There was an LPN named
Carolyn Adams, known as “Andy” Adams who was a particular
concern. An unusual number of patients seemed to die on her shift,
but she was completely unconcerned, making statements such as
“They are old – let them die.” I couldn’t believe her attitude or the fact
that it didn’t seem to attract any attention. She made many comments
about Terri being a waste of money, that she should die. She said it
was costing Michael a lot of money to keep her alive, and that he
complained about it constantly (I heard him complain about it all the
time, too.) Both Michael and Adams said that she would be worth
more to him if she were dead. I ultimately called the police relative to
this situation, and was terminated the next day. Other reasons were
cited, but I was convinced it was because of my “rocking the boat.”
13. Ms. Adams was one of the people who did not seem to be intimidated
by Michael. In fact, they seemed to be very close, and Adams would
do whatever Michael told her. Michael sometimes called Adams at night
and spoke at length. I was not able to hear the content of these phone calls, but I knew it was him talking to her because she would tell me afterward and relay orders from him.
14. I have contacted the Schindler family because I just couldn’t stand by
and let Terri die without the truth being known.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
CARLA SAUER IYER, R.N.
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this 29 day of August,
2003, by CARLA SAUER IYER, R.N., who produced her Florida’s driver’s license
as identification, and who did take an oath.
B. “STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF PINELLAS
BEFORE ME the undersigned authority personally appeared HEIDI LAW who being first duly sworn deposes and says:
1. My name is Heidi Law, I am over the age of 18 years, and make this statement on personal information.
2. I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Palm Gardens nursing home from March, 1997 to mid-summer of 1997. While I was employed at Palm Gardens, occasionally I took care of Theresa Schiavo. Generally, I worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, but occasionally also would work a double shift, until 7 a.m. the following morning.
3. At Palm Gardens, most of the patient care was provided by the CNAs, so I was in a good position to judge Terri’s condition and observe her reactions. Terri was noticeable, because she was the youngest patient at Palm Gardens.
4. I know that Terri did not receive routine physical therapy or any other kind of therapy. I was personally aware of orders for rehabilitation that were not being carried out. Even though they were ordered, Michael would stop them. Michael ordered that Terri receive no rehabilitation or range of motion therapy. I and Olga would give Terri range of motion anyway, but we knew we were endangering our jobs by doing so. We usually did this behind closed doors, we were so fearful of being caught. Our hearts would race and we were always looking out for Michael, because we knew that, not only would Michael take his anger out on us, but he would take it out more on Terri. We spoke of this many times.
5. Terri had very definite likes and dislikes. Olga and I used to call Terri “Fancy Pants,” because she was so particular about certain things. She just adored her baths, and was so happy afterward when she was all clean, smelling sweet from the lotion her mother provided, and wearing the soft nightgowns her mother laundered for her. Terri definitely did not like the taste of the teeth-cleaning swabs or the mouthwash we used. She liked to have her hair combed. She did not like being tucked in, and especially hated it if her legs were tightly tucked. You would always tell when Terri had a bowel movement, as she seem agitated and would sort of “scoot” to get away from it.
6. Every day, Terri was gotten up after lunch and sat in a chair all afternoon. When Terri was in bed, she very much preferred to lie on her right side and look out the window. We always said that she was watching for her mother. It was very obvious that her mother was her favorite person in the whole world.
7. I worked side-by-side with another CNA named Olga and could tell that she and Terri were especially close. Olga took a definite personal interest in Terri, and Terri responded to her. I could tell that Terri was very satisfied and happy with Olga’s attentions to her.
8. When Olga was talking with Terri, Terri would follow Olga with her eyes. I have no doubt in my mind that Terri understood what Olga was saying to her. I could tell a definite difference between the way Terri responded to Olga and the way she reacted to me, until she got used to my taking care of her. Initially, she “clammed up” with me, the way she would with anyone she did not know or was not familiar or comfortable with. It took about the fourth or fifth time taking care of her alone, without Olga, that Terri became relaxed and cooperative and non-resistant with me.
9. Terri reacted very well to seeing a picture of her mother, which was in her room. Many times when I came on duty it would be lying face down where she could not see it.
10. At least three times during any shift where I took care of Terri, I made sure to give Terri a wet washcloth filled with ice chips, to keep her mouth moistened. I personally saw her swallow the ice water and never saw her gag. Olga and I frequently put orange juice or apple juice in her washcloth to give her something nice to taste, which made her happy. On three or four occasions I personally fed Terri small mouthfuls of Jello, which she was able to swallow and enjoyed immensely. I did not do it more often only because I was so afraid of being caught by Michael.
11. On one occasion Michael Schiavo arrived with his girlfriend, and they entered Terri’s room together. I heard Michael tell his girlfriend that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state and was dying. After they left, Olga told me that Terri was extremely agitated and upset, and wouldn’t react to anyone. When she was upset, which was usually the case after Michael was there, she would withdraw for hours. We were convinced that he was abusing her, and probably saying cruel, terrible things to her because she would be so upset when he left.
12. In the past, I have taken care of comatose patients, including those in a persistent vegetative state. While it is true that those patients will flinch or make sounds occasionally, they don’t do it as a reaction to someone on a constant basis who is taking care of them, the way I saw Terri do.
13. I witnessed a priest visiting Terri a couple of times. Terri would become quiet when he prayed with her. She couldn’t bow her head because of her stiff neck, but she would still try. During the prayer, she would keep her eyes closed, opening them afterward. She laughed at jokes he told her. I definitely know that Terri “is in there.”
14. The Palm Gardens staff, myself included, were just amazed that a “Do Not Resuscitate” order had been put on Terri’s chart, considering her age and her obvious cognitive awareness of her surroundings.
15. During the time I cared for Terri, she formed words. I have heard her say “mommy” from time to time, and “momma,” and she also said “help me” a number of times. She would frequently make noises like she was trying to talk. Other staff members talked about her verbalizations.
16. Several times when Michael visited Terri during my shift, he went into her room alone and closed the door. This worried me because I didn’t trust Michael. When he left, Terri was very agitated, was extremely tense with tightened fists and some times had a cold sweat. She was much less responsive than usual and would just stare out the window, her eyes kind of glassy. It would take much more time and effort than usual to work her hands open to clean her palms.
17. I was told by supervisory staff that Michael was Terri’s legal guardian, and that it didn’t matter what the parents or the doctors or nurses wanted, just do what Michael told you to do or you will lose your job. Michael would override the orders of the doctors and nurses to make sure Terri got no treatment. Among the things that Terri was deprived of by Michael’s orders were any kind of testing, dental care or stimulation. I was ordered by my supervisors to limit my time with Terri. I recall telling my supervisor that Terri seemed abnormally warm to the touch. I was told to pull her covers down, rather than to take her temperature. As far as I know, Terri never left her room. The only stimulation she had was looking out the window and watching things, and the radio, which Michael insisted be left on one particular station. She had a television, and there was a sign below it saying not to change the channel. This was because of Michael’s orders.
18. As a CNA, I wanted every piece of information I could get about my patients. I never had access to medical records as a CNA, but it was part of my job duties to write my observations down on sheets of paper, which I turned over to the nurse at the nurses station for inclusion in the patients charts. In the case of Terri Schiavo, I felt that my notes were thrown out without even being read. There were trash cans at the nurses stations that we were supposed to empty each shift, and I often saw the notes in them. I made extensive notes and listed all of Terri’s behaviors, but there was never any apparent follow up consistent with her responsiveness.
19. I discussed this situation with other personnel at Palm Gardens, particularly with Olga, and another CNA, an older black man named Ewan Morris. We all discussed the fact that we could be fired for reporting that Terri was responsive, and especially for giving her treatment. The advice among the staff was “don’t do nothin’, don’t see nothin’ and don’t say nothin’.” It was particularly distressing that we always had to be afraid that if Michael got upset, he would take his anger out on Terri.
20. I recall an incident when Olga became very upset because Terri started to get a sore spot, because it might lead to a bedsore. Michael was told about it but didn’t seem to care. He didn’t complain about it all, in fact, saying “she doesn’t know the difference.” When Terri would get a UTI or was sick, Michael’s mood would improve.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
Heidi Law, Affiant
STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF PINELLAS
Sworn to and subscribed before me this day of September, 2003, by HEIDI LAW, who produced a Florida Driver’s License as identification.
C. “CAROLYN JOHNSON, CNA
STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF PINELLAS
BEFORE ME the undersigned authority personally appeared CAROLYN JOHNSON who being first duly sworn deposes and says:
1. My name is Carolyn Johnson, I am over the age of 18 years and make this statement on personal information.
2. I used to work at Sabal Palms nursing home in Largo, for a period of about two years. I actually was employed by a nursing agency and was placed at Sabal Palms as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). I believe the events related here occurred in about 1993.
3. During this assignment I took care of Terri Schiavo several times. The first time I saw her my duties were being explained to me by the nurse on duty. Terri Schiavo was lying in bed. Another patient, also a young woman about the same age and in the same condition, was sitting up in a chair, with a drink cup and straw in front of her.
4. I asked why Terri was not up in a chair, too. I learned, as part of my training, that there was a family dispute and that the husband, as guardian, wanted no rehabilitation for Terri. This surprised me, as I did not think a guardian could go against a doctor’s orders like that, but I was assured that a guardian could and that this guardian had gone against Terri’s doctor’s orders.
5. No one was allowed to just go in and see Terri. Michael had a visitors list. We all knew that we would lose our jobs if we did not do exactly what Michael said to do.
6. I remember seeing Michael Schiavo only once the entire time I worked at Sabal Palms, but we were all aware that Terri was not to be given any kind of rehabilitative help, per his instructions. Once, I wanted to put a cloth in Terri’s hand to keep her hand from closing in on itself, but I was not permitted to do this, as Michael Schiavo considered that to be a form of rehabilitation.
7. This entire experience made me look hard at nursing homes. After about two years, I quit this job, because I was so disillusioned with the way Terri was treated. Someone somewhere along the way should have reported this.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
Carolyn Johnson, Affiant”
5. Judge Greer failed to remove Michael Schiavo from acting as Guardian ad Litem in spite of a clear financial conflict, he would inherit the settlement funds from the lawsuit he filed on her behalf, and a personal conflict in that Michael Schiavo could marry his mistress after Terri Schiavowas slain. The Court might have taken notice of the fact that throughout the lawsuit Michael Schiavo often stated that it was his intention to take care of his wife for the rest of his life, and that his attitude changed only after the lawsuit settled with 700,000 being award to Terri and 300,000 to him for loss of consortium.
6. Judge Greer discharged the original Guardian ad Litem, an attorney appointed to represent a minor or someone mentally incompetent, for Terri Schiavo after that Guardian ad Litem suggested that Michael Schiavo be removed as guardian due to his financial conflict of interest.
7. This list could go on for considerable length. Judge Greer simply ignored evidence that stood in the way of the death of Terri Schiavo.
8. The trial transcript may be read here.
10. I will give the final word on this case to my favorite Leftist atheist, Nat Hentoff: