Mary Mostert
March 23, 2005
When did Michael Schiavo first start trying to kill Terri?
By Mary Mostert

Because I try to track down facts before I write about a subject, I have not written about Terri Schiavo and the battle over her condition. What actually happened to Terri back in 1990 that caused her to be the topic of world conversation today? Before we decide to permanently dispose of her, shouldn't we first find out how she got into this predicament?

Well, she collapsed, we are told by her husband Michael, in 1990 and was taken to the hospital . Some stories say she had a heart attack. Other stories, including a medical report by Dr. William Hammesfahr, a world-reknowned neurologist, totally refute any heart attack. Hammesfahr reported:

"Ms Schiavo was in her usual state of good health until 2/25/90, when her husband reported that he was awakened from sleep approximately 6 Am by her falling. He reports that she was unresponsive. "Paramedics were called, and aggressive resuscitation was performed with 7 defibrillations en route.

"In the Emergency Room, a possible diagnosis of heart attack was briefly entertained, but then dismissed after blood chemistries and serial EKG's did not show evidence of a heart attack."

Some reports guess that she collapsed due to an effort to lose weight although, she was not at the time overweight. Hammesfahr's report stated:

"The patient had a difficult hospital course with the development of poorly controlled seizures and prolonged coma state requiring, for a time, ventilator support. However, the staff noted improvement, and it was recommended by several physicians that she be discharged to an intensive rehabilitation center."

In 1992, Michael Schiavo sued for malpractice and won over a $1 million. He was personally awarded $300,000 for his "loss" and $700,000 for Terri's rehabilitation and care for the rest of her natural life. However, the therapy, after the award, was not approved by Michael Schiavo and she was confined to a nursing home after the settlement.

It was after the settlement that Michael first claimed that Terri had previously stated that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means a statement he never mentioned during the malpractice trial. He has never produced any written proof that Terri said that.

Beginning almost immediately after receiving the malpractice funds, Michael Schiavo, as Terri's legal guardian, began to refuse approval for ANY therapy or rehabilitation efforts and she has been confined to bed.

Since 1995, Michael Schiavo has lived openly with a girlfriend, Jodi Centonze, with whom he has two children, while remaining legally married to Terri, as well as being her legal her guardian.

In 1998, Michael Schiavo petitioned the court to have Terri's feeding tube removed. In 2003, Michael Schiavo's attorneys reported that the trust fund was down to $50,000, with more than $430,000 going to "pay for court costs associated with her husband's legal battle to remove his wife's feeding tube." Meanwhile, Medicaid helps to pay Terri's $5,000-a-month nursing costs at a hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida. 13

During this time period, Terri's parents have attempted to gain guardianship over their daughter. During the legal battles that have ensued, in 2003 a deposition was taken from Dr. William Campbell Walker, a radiologist, concerning a bone scan the hospital did on Terri in 1991. That bone scan revealed what Dr. Walker reported at the time as "compression fracture in the 19 vertebral body of the spine."

For seven years as Terri has been consistently denied rehabilitation treatment that, according to several doctors, would have significantly improved her chances of recovery, Michael spent her money awarded for her therapy on lawyers trying to get her starved to death. Several doctors pointed out, including Dr. Hammesfahr, that Terri not only CAN swallow on her own, but frequently DOES swallow and pictures shown clearly indicate, as Hammesfahr and other testify, that she can and does respond to voice commands and particularly to her parents.

This would indicate that she is NOT in what the State of Florida defines as a "vegetative" state. It also makes me wonder, now that the feeding tube is removed, if any effort to help her swallow water or food is being made today, or whether under the court order spoon feeding also has been outlawed? Terri's parents, if they just came and got her and took her home, I guess would be arrested for kidnapping under Florida's legal system.

At this point, the legal system of Florida has, in the words of one legal observer, created the "framework for legal euthanasia." Of course, euthanasia is technically the practice of killing someone painlessly because they prefer death to life for whatever reason. I would not classify starvation as a "painless" way to die.

Dr. Hammesfahr stated in his report:

"In the spring of 2000, three physicians, including Dr. Jay Carpenter, who is a former Chief of Medicine at Morton Plant Hospital, filed affidavits after observing Ms. Schiavo. All three physicians stated that it is visually apparent that Ms Schiavo is able to swallow and, in fact, does swallow her own saliva.

"The patient continued with no physical therapy, communication or speech therapy, or routine medical screening evaluations and treatment such as dental care, mammography, gynecological exams or pap smears during this time."

Under these conditions and questions, it would appear to me that Terri SHOULD have a totally different guardian, such as her parents, until some questions are answered about the spinal and other injuries that appeared on her bone scan a decade ago. Why is it that a man who clearly wants his wife dead, cannot explain how she actually got into the state she is in, or produce ANY proof, other than his unsubstantiated words, that she would want to die, is being unquestioningly defended by the Florida courts?

Increasingly, it appears to me, that Terri would have gotten better care had her husband never won that malpractice suit and been given $1 million to spend much of it on lawyers to legally kill off his wife.

It all makes me wonder just when Michael Schiavo made his first effort to kill Terri? Was it before or after she ended up in the hospital with an unexplained problem that put her in a coma?

© Mary Mostert

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Mary Mostert

Mary Mostert is a nationally-respected political writer. She was one of the first female political commentators to be published in a major metropolitan newspaper in the 1960s... (more)


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