WASHINGTON – One day before the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death, her family came to the nation's capital with a pledge to keep fighting "the growing culture of euthanasia."
Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler, said the foundation formed several years ago to keep her brain-damaged daughter alive would now focus on educating the public about end-of-life decisions.
"We lost in our battle to save Terri, but we believe it is incumbent on us to redirect our efforts to saving the lives of the innocent, who every day are being targeted by the euthanasia cult," Mary Schindler said at a news conference outside the Capitol.
Unlike last year, when Congress, President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pressed to keep Schiavo alive, only one lawmaker was on hand Thursday with the Schindlers, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. The conservative lawmaker is considering a bid for president in 2008.
"As Terri's case showed dramatically, there's an urgent need for an organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of elderly, disabled, those among us who are most vulnerable to the increased push for euthanasia in our culture and in our society," Brownback said.
Schiavo was at the center of a bitter 15-year legal fight between her husband, Michael Schiavo, and her family over whether she should be kept alive with a feeding tube after a devastating brain injury left her in what court-appointed doctors called a persistent vegetative state.
The courts ultimately sided with Schiavo's husband, and Schiavo died of dehydration at a Florida hospice on March 31, 2005, 13 days after the tube was removed.
Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, said the foundation will work to eliminate the "persistent vegetative state" diagnosis and to have feeding tubes for severely injured patients considered ordinary, not extraordinary, care.
While family members said they did not wish to continue their public feud with Terri's husband, her father, Bob Schindler, read a statement condemning Michael Schiavo's new book, "Terri: The Truth."
Schiavo's family members released their own book this week, "A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo — A Lesson For Us All."