Family members and friends of a brain-injured Florida woman who died after U.S. courts allowed her husband to deprive her of food and water are launching an effort to observe "Terri's Day" each March 31, in recognition of the anniversary of her "death by deliberate dehydration," says a priest who is a pro-life activist.
"This third anniversary should be an occasion for all of us to both remember the injustice done to Terri, and reach out to others with prayer and concrete action when they need the kind of help Terri needed," said Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother.
Schiavo, on whom WND reported extensively, died of starvation and dehydration in March 2005, two weeks after a federal judge ruled her husband could order doctors to withhold food and water.................
Three years ago, Terri Schiavo was removed from life support in Pinellas Park.
Monday, on the anniversary of her death, The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation and Priests for Life called for a day of remembrance.
Schiavo died March 31, 2005, at age 41, almost two weeks from the time her feeding tube was removed after a seven-year court battle between Schiavo's husband, Michael, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.
"No one should ever have to witness what my family witnessed, watching a loved one slowly dehydrate to death," said Schiavo's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, in a statement.
"We want Terri's day to remind us that persons with disabilities are never burdens and should be treated with nothing but our unconditional love and compassion," Vitadamo said.
Priests for Life and the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation are nonprofit organizations that oppose euthanasia. The groups have declared March 31 "Terri's Day" to "foster education, prayer and activism regarding discrimination against the disabled" and "advocacy for people in situations similar to what Terri and her family faced," a statement said.
Schiavo had been fed through a tube since a heart attack in 1990 that deprived her brain of oxygen and left her in a persistent vegetative state.
Michael Schiavo won a legal battle against the Schindlers to carry out what he said was his wife's wish. He testified that she had said she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.
After a January 2000 nonjury trial, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer ruled that testimony from Schiavo and his relatives provided "clear and convincing evidence" that Terri Schiavo indicated she would not want to be kept alive without hope of improvement.
The Schindlers appealed. Greer's ruling was upheld again and again by state appellate courts and in federal court. Twice, Schiavo's feeding tube was removed on Greer's orders, only to be reinserted.
In April 2001, another judge intervened and the feeding tube was replaced. The second time, in October 2003, former Gov. Jeb Bush ordered the tube reinserted, using a hastily crafted measure known as Terri's Law that was later struck down as unconstitutional.
An autopsy found she was blind and her cognitive brain functions ended after her heart failure. She died of dehydration.