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As promised, more behind the scenes. I am writing this blog on Sunday night since I will be on a plane Monday morning and unable to write this. As I write it, Terri Schiavo (search) is still alive but of course she could die at any moment. Her story is indeed a sad. I have been told that many who have been outside her hospice will fly to Washington, D.C., tomorrow and demonstrate at the White House and the Congress.
On Saturday I was in Florida and went to the area outside the hospice (search) where Terri Schiavo is. I wanted to see for myself since often the TV cameras are in a fixed position and don't swing around to give you a complete idea of the environment and the story.
When you approach the hospice area, you are met by yellow tape (police tape) and police. The police are there to provide crowd control (and, if you read the story in the Miami Herald on Saturday, to prevent a state agency from taking custody of Terri.)
The crowd on Saturday was, my guess, about 200 people. People asked me to take their pictures (I might post later in the week) and many asked to be interviewed. People who are there demonstrating want the story told as often and loudly as possible. Both adults and children were holding protest signs. Some children wanted me to take their pictures as I was taking pictures of the crowd, but I was careful not to take a picture for the blog of any child without speaking directly to the parent first. The parents I spoke to were eager to have the pics taken since they wanted their protest known. I obliged.
Many saw that I also had my handycam and wanted me to do interviews, too. As I was leaving, one man begged me to interview him. He was intent on having me hear his story. His story was a difficult one to face in that, as the man stood there, he was holding up his son — a 30-ish year old man who had suffered a severe brain injury more than ten years ago and can not stand himself or feed himself. He has brought the son from Virginia to stand vigil outside the hospice. But for the condition of the son's skin (very good condition) I would not have known the son to be alive. His son looked very sick to me. It was very difficult to confront the situation. I had right before me a very distressed and loving father and a son who showed few signs of life. Of course I am not a doctor and I don't know the son's condition or his prognosis.
My first choice with the father and his son would have been to smile politely and leave without doing the interview. It was simply a terrible situation for this father and son and, like everyone else, I hate to see suffering. However, because the man kept asking, I finally agreed and turned my camera on and listened to his story. I have not yet decided whether it would be "appropriate" to post the video. On the one hand I don't want to use the troubled man and the very sick son as a "prop" in the blog — and, on the other, hand the man wants his story heard and this IS his story, not sugarcoated or ignored. I am going to think about whether to post it or not and talk to others on the staff. I can't decide where the line between "good taste" and respect — and obliging a man who wants his story told exactly how it is. I will also review the video.
Incidentally, I called Jeff Brown, a frequent guest on our show, to go with me to the hospice. Jeff has been doing our show from the hospice all last week so he knew where the place is, where our FOX live site is, etc. I also met in person for the first time FOX News correspondent Julie Banderas. Often in the business you talk to me only via satellite so I was happy to actually meet Julie in person. If you watch FOX a great deal, you know that Julie has been working very long hours on this story.
Here are some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
Until just recently it was my belief that the right thing was being done in removing Terri Schiavo feeding tube and water. It was my belief with the information that I had at that time that to let her die a peaceful and honorable death. Again that was with the information I had heard up to just recently. Now knowing what I know. My feelings have changed, I believe that what is now happening to the beautiful girl is a true travesty — one that, if not stopped immediately, it will be too late. And those who have supported these actions without taking the time to take a more thorough look at all the information pertaining to this case should be ashamed.
I do have one question that I thought just a few minutes ago. That is if President George Bush has the ability to pardon murderers and other who horrible crimes. Then why couldn't he intervene and at the least give her a temporary pardon until all avenues have been exhausted?
San Jose, CA
E-mail No. 2
I just have a comment. I never thought that I would get to live to see a legal murder. Terri Schiavo, if she said she did not want to be keep alive artificially — okay, lets say is true, but she has been more than eight days breathing by her own and she is been murder legally little by little by starvation. If you do not feed someone of course that person is going to die. She is not on an artificial respirator. I also want to add, I would of expect for someone completely healthy to last more than a week with not food, but is clear that Terri Schiavo has been fighting to live.
E-mail No. 3
I do realize that many of the people who are protesting Terri's feeding tube removal are considered Christians. I don't want the nation to think that all Christians are for continuing her poor body's struggle here on earth. This Christian doesn't. Personally, I consider that cruel and inhumane. Death is a natural process, just like birth, and I don't believe it should be interfered with. Death should be, for those who believe in the Lord's promises, a beautiful thing. Such was the case of my mother, who died in 2000 at age 55 from cancer. We were best friends and I loved her more than my next breath. While she was giving up her fight, I kissed her and told her how much I loved her and would miss her, but that I knew she was going to a beautiful place and that I hoped to meet her again some day on the other side. I still cry about it (even as I type this) because the pain of separation always lingers to some extent. However, her passing strengthened my personal faith and resolve to meet her in that beautiful afterlife.
T. G. Scott
E-mail No. 4
This woman is a joke! Here a woman is rotting away in her bed and she is shocked that someone would like to blow that mother f_'s head off! I am shocked at her attitude! She talks about Terri like she was a pair of Michael's shoes! What a bitch! Where did you find her? Under some rock?
E-mail No. 5
Imagine when they pulled the plug on Karen Ann Quinlan's breathing machine and she continued breathing on her own. Would they have then pulled out a pillow and stop her from breathing on her own? This scenario is what is happening now when Terri Schiavo is not allowed food or water to be placed into her mouth. Since when is eating food artificial means of life support?
Greta, I can understand the feeding tube as artificial, but not by mouth, could this be considered murder? It would be in the scenario of Karen Quinlan being forced to stop breathing. Please elaborate on this if you can.
I don't see how the government cannot become involved.
E-mail No. 6
Please tell President Bush or Governor Bush to write an executive order stating that every human being has the right to receive food and water unless that person has stated in a written legal document that he or she does not want food and water. Then President Bush or Governor Bush needs to execute this new executive order immediately!
No human being should have the right to deny food and water to another human being thus having the power over that individual saying whether that individual can live or die. All human beings are equal!
This madness has to stop!
Ted T. Tawney
E-mail No. 7
While I'm on the parents side in this case — although I do understand both sides and fully 'get' that there are a ton of weird issues in this case —- I am stunned that Michael Schiavo has decided to cremate Terri and bury her in Philadelphia when both he and her parents have been residents of Florida for over 20 years. What an incredibly cruel and heartless thing to do to her parents. They can't even visit their daughter's grave at a nearby cemetery now? Horrible. What is wrong with him and his people? As a father now himself, may he never ever have to go through what he has put the Schindlers through.
E-mail No. 8
My mom went into North Memorial Medical Center on May 9, 2001. She had doubled over in pain at home and was admitted to the ICU. They discovered that my mom had developed an infection in her colon. She had polyps removed the week before during her colonoscopy. They told us (our whole family) that my mom was going to die. It took from May 9, 2001 until 2:15pm on May 29, 2001 for my mom to die. The people speaking on behalf of the Schindler family are in front of the camera's today saying that because Terri is still alive today on Day 10, it mean's she doesn't want to die. When the feeding tube was removed from Terri, it was stated that Terri could last three days to 16 days. I've started wondering if these so-called religious advisers are trying to incite things so that a movie will be made of this. I figure the guy that is going to D.C. tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. is hoping that Ron Silver will play him in the movie.
E-mail No. 9
Everyone has been calling for separation of church and state — now the "spiritual advisers" want the state to intervene on Terri's behalf. You can't have it both ways. Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it!
E-mail No. 10
I would like you to contact Mark Furman and ask him to investigate the Schindler - Schiavo case. There are many depositions that throw a suspicious light on Michael Schiavo and all should not rest until the truth comes out completely. Mark did a marvelous job on the Michael Skakel case.
Santa Rosa, CA
E-mail No. 11
I was reading an Associated Press article entitled "Attorney says brain-damaged woman on morphine" (3/27/2005 6:08:19 AM). Apparently the hospice workers are giving Terri morphine to "ease pain brought on by her body's failure."
From what I've listened to doctors on your show and others say, she should feel no pain since she is alleged to be in a PVS. Seems that I recall someone mentioning that her moans of pain also led them to find a broken femur due to therapy.
I would think this, along with the woman trying to say she wanted to live would be enough to bring any human judge to have her tube reinserted.
It really seems that Judge Greer has an agenda to see her die as he's blocked every effort to save her.
It is a poor state of affairs when our judiciary believe they are God.
Those are my thoughts.
E-mail No. 12
I am not even going to interject my opinion about Terri and her last days because it is none of my business, but I am very, very angry about one thing. I do not care how sad, hostile, adversarial or whatever the Schindlers feel at this moment ... the suggestion that their loved one is lying there with bleeding lips, cracked tongue etc is a massive insult to the hospice movement.
They are anxious to malign her husband and I don't speak for or against him, but let me tell you, I have worked actively with the hospice movement for many years and there is no way under the sun a patient entrusted to hospice care is suffering during their end of life experience. The hospice did not determine that she should have the feeding tube withdrawn, but since it has been, they are absolutely NOT allowing their patient to suffer. I know news organizations love to stir up controversy, but it alarms me that reporters are suggesting pictures should be taken, etc to "prove" she is not suffering. The woman is in a hospice...not in her husband's living room. Neither he nor the Schindlers are ultimately in charge of what is transpiring. The two warring parties are free to whip accusations back and forth 'til the end time for all I care ... against each other ... but reporters need to get a grip. It is the hospice being insulted and this must stop. On the other hand, it is clear compassion is pretty lacking with many of these folks anyway. While they are chanting and disrupting life over Terri, other folks and their families are engaged in the hospice process and receiving short shrift!
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