Terri Schindler Schiavo, a comatose young woman who died in Florida March 31, 2005 after being denied nutrition and hydration despite a long court battle, has not been forgotten.
On Friday, April 5, Archbishop Charles Chaput will celebrate a 5 p.m. Mass in Terri’s memory at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. This will be followed by a dinner at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriot Hotel at 12th and Market streets, sponsored by the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the mother of a child with disabilities, will be the keynote speaker.
“The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network is a non-profit group dedicated to ensuring the rights of disabled, elderly and vulnerable citizens against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing,” said Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother and the head of the Narberth-based organization.
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Terri, then 26, was living in Florida with her husband, Michael Schiavo, when on Feb. 25, 1990 she collapsed in their home and was rushed to Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg. From that point she was in a coma from which she never emerged.
For the first three years Michael Schiavo vigorously pursued various avenues of treatment for his wife that were unsuccessful. He also won a medical malpractice lawsuit totaling $2.1 million, part of which was set aside for Terri’s care.
Shortly after this he ceased authorizing further treatment against the vigorous opposition of her birth family.
In 1998 he filed a petition to withdraw life support, claiming she was in a persistent vegetative state from which she could never recover and that it was Terri’s stated wish to do so in such circumstances, although there was no living will to confirm this or knowledge of it by her family.
It was only after a protracted court battle that, on March 18, 2005, Terri’s feeding tube was removed. After almost 14 days without nourishment Terri Schindler died. Ten months later Michael Schiavo married the woman with whom he had fathered two children while his wife was in a coma.
After Terri’s death the Schindler family initiated what is now the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, originally in Florida but recently relocated to Pennsylvania.
“We struggle to keep the doors open, but we celebrate her life for others,” Bobby Schiavo said. “People with cognitive disabilities who need only basic care are being killed every day.”
In the course of the April 5 dinner the 2013 Terri Schiavo Award will be given to a Canadian couple, Moe and Sana Maraachi. In 2011 their infant son Joseph was denied a tracheotomy in Canada because it was deemed futile because of his neurologic disorder.
The procedure was performed at a Catholic hospital in St. Louis, and the child lived for several months after that.
For further information on the April 5 Mass and dinner visit the website lifeandhope.com.