Monday, September 12, 2016

Interview with Terri Schiavo's brother

Bobby Schindler is the president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, an organization dedicated to defending the vulnerable and disabled from euthanasia.

He and his family had a tragic, first-hand experience with euthanasia when they fought to preserve the life of his sister, Terri Schindler Schiavo...

LN: What are you working on right now?

Schindler: Along with what seems to be daily phone calls the Life & Hope Network receives asking for help, we are currently working on several cases.

There is the remarkable situation involving Tabetha Long. Tabetha had a cardiac episode in April. As a result, she experienced an anoxic brain injury. Tabetha’s doctors were optimistic with her initial test results. In fact, in the few weeks following her incident, she had varying degrees of responsiveness. Consequently, she was considered to be a good candidate for rehabilitation when she began to answer questions and track objects.

Incredibly, and what is still difficult to explain, her mother, who was making her medical treatment decisions, decided to admit Tabetha into hospice where, subsequently, her food and water were stopped.

After Tabetha’s boyfriend began asking questions, he contacted our organization. We immediately put him in touch with an attorney. After a June 8 emergency court hearing, Tabetha was appointed a guardian ad litem, was removed from hospice, and her food and water were resumed after almost two weeks. Tabetha is currently at a rehabilitation facility, but her case is ongoing.

We are also involved in the tragic case of Kyle Dantzler, who I published an article about on

In 2013, we were closely involved in the Jahi McMath situation, and still make regular visits to spend time with Jahi and her parents, Nailah and Marvin Winkfield.

LN: Do you think things are better or worse today for vulnerable people like your sister?

Schindler: If we want to use the calls for help we are receiving on our Crisis Lifeline as a barometer to measure the climate of our health care system, then undoubtedly things are worse and in my opinion, will continue to deteriorate.

LN: Can you tell us about the types of life-threatening situations that you are hearing about at the network?

Schindler: Unbeknownst to most of the general public has been the reclassification of food and water via feeding tubes, which used to be considered basic and ordinary care.

Today, receiving food and water this way is considered extraordinary care/medical treatment. Because of this change, it is now legal in all 50 states to remove or deny feeding tubes to patients. Consequently, this has placed countless medically vulnerable at risk of having their lives prematurely ended by dehydration and starvation.

I believe that it’s just a matter of time before the same “medical treatment” classification will be applied to food served on a tray for a patient who is unable to feed themselves.

LN: California recently legalized assisted suicide, and across the border, Canada just legalized euthanasia. Do you find that over the past 10 years there has been a change in the public’s response to end of life ethics?

Schindler: I believe that there has, and I also believe that all of the life issues are connected. From abortion, situations like my sister’s case, and assisted suicide – it is all connected and has had an exceptionally harmful effect on our nation, not to mention globally. We are more and more emotionally insensitive to the value of human life and, as a result, we have accepting killing for almost any reason.

But it doesn’t mean we can stop doing the things necessary to educate the public so they understand that killing is never the answer, and providing compassion and love can never be substituted when it comes to caring for our most vulnerable.
LN: What are some misconceptions people have regarding end of life issues?

Schindler: Terri’s situation was and continues to be described as “end of life.” It wasn’t. Terri was not dying, nor did she have a terminal illness, and her brain injury was not going to lead to her death.

Terri’s life ended only after her basic care was denied and she was inhumanly starved and dehydrated to death. There are countless others, who, on a daily basis, are experiencing the same type of barbaric death and none of them are “end of life” circumstances.

LN: Do you have a quote or saying that inspires you or gives you hope?

Schindler: I’ve always liked Wesley J. Smith’s quote:

“Does every human life have equal and incalculable moral value simply and merely because it is human? Answer yes, and we have a chance of achieving a truly humane, free, and prosperous society. Answer no, and we are just another animal in the forest.”


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