Scott Tibbs
Hoosier Review, October 20, 2003

Back to opinion page.

State-mandated murder in Florida

Imagine a married man wants to move on with his girlfriend, with whom he has already fathered two children. Imagine he knows he will inherit what is left of his wife's $1.3 million trust fund if she dies. So, he hires a hit man to shoot his wife. If the state can prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he will go to prison for life. Most people would find this man to be despicable, and would be outraged that he would do such a thing.

Now imagine the contract killer is the Florida courts.

Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990, suffered brain damage and went into a coma. Today, she lives in a "persistent vegetative state", where she breathes on her own but is fed through a feeding tube. Terri's parents have been in a decade long legal battle over custody and care of Terri with her "husband", Micheal Schiavo, who sought to have her feeding tube removed in 1998. He finally succeeded, Judge George Greer ordered the feeding tube removed, which happened October 15. Terri is expected to die of starvation and dehydration within 10 to 15 days of the tube's removal.

Despite the claims made by her "husband", Terri responds to stimuli. This was proven when her parents smuggled a video camera into the hospice where Terri is staying. Terri reacts to her parents and attempts to vocalize responses. What is most disturbing is that she displays obvious displeasure at being tickled with a cotton swab.

This is a woman who clearly feels pain, but will be murdered via starvation and dehydration at the request of her "husband" and with the approval of Judge Greer. Starvation is an especially cruel way to die, which is why the world was shocked at the pictures of Jews in the Nazi concentration camps. The fact that this woman will suffer for days before she finally passes away adds an even more shocking aspect to this unbelievable story.

The Schindlers released the tape and posted it on, the Web site dedicated to saving Terri's life. Afterwards, Schiavo petitioned the court to have the Schindlers barred from visiting Terri without supervision. Well, I wonder why a man who wants to murder his wife, and claims she is in a "persistent vegetative state", would attempt to prevent further evidence from being gathered proving she is aware?

Governor Jeb Bush has written to Judge Greer, asking him to give Terri a reprieve. Greer rejected Bush's plea, and proceeded with the order to have Terri murdered. Bush said the situation is now out of his hands.

That is not good enough. Bush should disregard the court's decision and take measures to save Terri's life. If Governor Bush does not, President George W. Bush should send in federal authorities to stop the removal of Terri's feeding tube, citing the 14th Amendment's clause of equal protection under the law.

This is not a matter of the right to die. Terri is not actively campaigning for the right to end her own life, with or without assistance. This is a case where Michael Schiavo wants his wife dead and stands to benefit from her death. Claims by Schiavo that Terri made remarks (of which there is no documentation) that she did not want to live on life support are seriously lacking in credibility.

This case could be a watershed event in the so-called "right to die" movement, introducing involuntary euthanasia of the disabled. Terri cannot speak for herself, and her legal guardian is seeking to advance his interests over hers. Government certainly should not be acting on behalf of a man who wants to be rid of his wife. Either Governor Bush or President Bush must take steps to protect Terri from her predatory husband, and they must do it now.