Below is the original letter written by reader CR to the WSWS in response to the article “Bush, Congress intervene in Terri Schiavo case: political thuggery in the service of reaction”
You write that “Terry Schiavo ... collapsed in 1990, apparently as the result of a potassium imbalance, and has been in a non-responsive condition ever since. She breathes on her own, but is otherwise dependent on intravenous feeding for both water and food intake. Her brain function is effectively zero, attested to by numerous neurologists and other doctors who have examined her.” This, I am afraid, is patently untrue. Terri is able to communicate with sound and facial expressions. The doctors who examined her, for reasons known to themselves, have dismissed these reactions as involuntary reflexes!
Prior to her gastrostomy being removed last week she was asked to communicate whether she wanted to live. “The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was sitting on Terri’s bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands. I said to her, ‘Terri if you could only say “I want to live” this whole thing could be over today.’ I begged her to try very hard to say, ‘I want to live.’ To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri’s eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, ‘Ahhhhhhh.’ Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, ‘Waaaaaaaa.’ She yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and the female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri’s door, clearly heard her. At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very frustrated and began to cry.”
She has been filmed looking deeply into her mother’s eyes and responding with great pleasure to her mother. Doctors and therapists who have examined Terri also assert that with therapy Terri’s condition could improve greatly. Unfortunately, Michael Schiavo has denied Terri this therapy, despite a colossal payout meant for such purposes. Not one penny has been used to rehabilitate her.
Leaving aside the politics, I hope that you can look more deeply into this and in future not repeat the distortions displayed in your article on Terri. Whatever the political causes, one would hope that all who become aware of the truth about Terri would fight to ensure she lives.
21 March 2005