This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 18, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The parents of Terri Schiavo are fighting to visit their 40-year-old daughter who has been at the center of a life-or-death battle for the last 14 years. Joining us for a Fox News exclusive are Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. They are joined by their attorney, George Tragos.
Welcome to all of you. And Bob, first to you. Bob, what is the medical condition of your daughter, Terri?
BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI'S FATHER: Well, first of all, she's not in a coma. She's not in a vegetative state. She's by far from being brain dead. She's suffering from severe brain damage that needs to be treated.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Bob, do you believe that her brain damage can be treated, that there is the chance of recovery?
BOB SCHINDLER: We have over a dozen doctors on record officially stating that she can recover, if she was given proper treatment. She could have recovered if she had received proper therapy 10 years ago, which she has never received.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mary, when was the last time you saw your daughter?
MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI'S MOTHER: It was 49 days ago -- 50 days, I think it's now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why has it been so long? Because you've been a regular visitor to see your daughter. Mary, why has it been 49 to 50 days?
MARY SCHINDLER: Well, when the police were investigating the -- up there at hospice, they stopped all visitors from coming in to see Terri. And we were...
VAN SUSTEREN: George, what -- oh, go ahead, Mary. I'm sorry.
MARY SCHINDLER: No. And we were one of them.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, why don't you back up and explain the latest sort of round, in terms of why it is that your clients are unable to see their daughter?
GEORGE TRAGOS, SCHINDLER FAMILY ATTORNEY: Greta, it started -- and you're a criminal defense lawyer. You know. How many times has a victim issued a press release at the beginning of an investigation? They issued a press release, the police investigated it, took six weeks and found every single fact in the press release couldn't be verified, and in fact, were lies!
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just stop you. You say "they." Who is "they"? Because the viewers are not -- I mean, you guys are so intimately involved with this for 14 years, but George, who's the "they"?
TRAGOS: Michael Schiavo, the husband of Terri, who is having the feeding tube, who has a girlfriend he lives with, with two children from that girlfriend now, but is still trying to pull the feeding tube from his wife and won't divorce her -- he's the "they," along with his attorney, Mr. Filos (ph).
VAN SUSTEREN: And now -- and George -- and so now we're at the point, though, that they did an investigation, and the police have cleared the parents of doing anything at all to Terri in the last 49 days, right?
TRAGOS: They cleared...
VAN SUSTEREN: In the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRAGOS: They cleared everything. In fact, even the facts that were even inconsequential in the press release, they said those weren't true. So everything is clear. And the press release said when the police finish their investigation, they can start visiting again. Well, the police have finished the investigation, and they did a press release saying there was nothing to do, but they still can't visit them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, if I were to go see your daughter -- and of course, I can't and I wouldn't because I wouldn't invade her privacy -- but what would I see?
BOB SCHINDLER: Well, you'd see -- the way Terri reacts to is that she's a live person and she responds to our family. She laughs, she cries, she tries to talk to us. And she says -- she responds to conversations, to questions. Unfortunately, she cannot -- what she's saying is not legible. We can't understand her because she needs therapy, speech therapy. But she is making every attempt to communicate. And I think the videos that are on our Web site indicate that, where she's following commands. And the way she's been portrayed, you know, by the husband's attorney and the media, is just incredible. I mean, she's far from being in that condition.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mary, why do you think that the court has, at least on occasion, issued an order that the tube can be removed pursuant to Terri's husband, Michael's, wish? I mean, why does Michael want to do that? And why do you think the court is backing him up?
MARY SCHINDLER: I don't really know. All I know is that Michael keeps saying it's her wishes, and the only people that knew her wishes were Michael, his brother and his sister-in-law. That's the only people that knew her wishes.
BOB SCHINDLER: If I could add that there's -- everyone that knows Terri, and I'm talking about dozens of people, find just the opposite, that Terri would never, ever express herself like that. And that has been presented to the court, too, about all of Terri's friends, but it's been ignored.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you ever hear, either one of you, Michael -- or, I mean, Bob or Mary, did either one of you ever hear Terri say, I don't want to be kept on life support, should I find myself in a compromised medical condition that calls for it?
BOB SCHINDLER: She didn't say that, but she visited her grandmother in a nursing home on a regular basis, and she was exposed to so many people that were in end-of-life situations. She never once said, I wouldn't want to live like that or they should be, you know, euthanized. She never, ever indicated anything like that. She was very sympathetic towards those people.
MARY SCHINDLER: She was very close to my mother.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's take a quick break. If the three of you could just stand by for one second. Also ahead: A 16-year-old vanishes from her home in the middle of the night. Her mother is worried something sinister may have happened. And later: Two famous actors remember the man best known as Felix Unger.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back with an exclusive interview with the parents of Terri Schiavo, Bob and Mary Schindler, and they are with their attorney, George Tragos.
George, just to sort of recap, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the court had ordered that the feeding tube be removed, the Florida state legislature passed Terri's Law, which gave the governor, Bush, the authority to order the tube be reinserted according to the parents' wishes. That law has now been declared unconstitutional, it is now up in the court of appeals to see whether it's constitutional. That's where we stand on the feeding tube issue, is that right, George?
GEORGE TRAGOS, SCHINDLER FAMILY ATTY.: Well, Greta, there's a later issue, it has been taken to the Florida Supreme Court. The appellate court passed on it and said it might as well just go to the supreme court, why waste our time?
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now the other issue is this other investigation about whether or not somehow Terri had been harmed and her parents were not allowed to see her for 49 or 50 days. The parents have been totally cleared. Why can't you get those parents in to see their daughter now that that's over?
TRAGOS: The only explanation I can give is just plain meanness on the part of Mr. Schiavo. There's no reason why the parents can't come to see her. Everything that Mr. Schiavo and Mr. Felos have said about the danger has been proved false, yet they still won't let her in. We tried to go to court...
VAN SUSTEREN: Does he have the authority to ban the parents from seeing their daughter?
TRAGOS: Technically he's the guardian and until the court reverses him, and we have a hearing set for the twenty-sixth, he's able to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, when is the last time you talked to your son-in-law, Michael?
BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI'S FATHER: The better part of 10 years, I guess. This -- going back with Terri, one of our major concerns not being able to see her is the fact that she's in total isolation and has been as a matter of fact, for four years other than our family, and the only stimulation she gets is from our family. And we're very, very concerned that she may feel that we've abandoned her. And, you know, if I had two demands to make, I would demand that Terri be moved from a hospice facility where she's been for four years, and that we get reinstated into visitation, because there's absolutely no reason why.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I don't get that part of it. I don't understand why -- I mean, well, there's the other debate over removing the feeding tube or not and what were Terri's wishes. I don't understand why you can't visit your daughter. But anyway, that's...
B. SCHINDLER: My...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's my beef with it. What -- go ahead.
B. SCHINDLER: My wife has had many, many tearful evenings, and I've witnessed where she cried herself to sleep, that she has not been able to see her daughter. That's the first time in all of Terri's life she's been away from us that long.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mary, prior to this 49-, 50-day period which was this ongoing investigation in which you've now been totally cleared, how often did you see your daughter in the hospice or the hospital?
MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI'S MOM: We used to go up every weekend and I would try to get up there during the week, because I work, but every weekend we saw her.
VAN SUSTEREN: When was the last time, Mary, that you spoke to your son-in-law, Michael?
M. SCHINDLER: I don't even remember. I think 1994, somewhere around there.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- Mary, what would be the motivation for Michael to want to remove a feeding tube against your daughter's wishes?
M. SCHINDLER: Because he keeps saying it is her wishes. He keeps saying that's what she would want.
B. SCHINDLER: The fact that he has, you know, children of his own now and he has a woman he's living with and has lived with, you'd think he'd attend to his own family instead of interfering with Terri's life, so there has to be some motivation for that. And frankly, we just don't know what that is. It's ...
VAN SUSTEREN: George.
VAN SUSTEREN: There was at one point a medical examination done in which two doctors were picked by Michael, two doctors picked by Bob and Mary's side of this, and the court picked a fifth doctor, and the five doctors examined Terri, and correct me if I'm wrong, three said there was no chance of recovery, two said she did -- would recover -- or had a possibility of recovery. Is that true?
TRAGOS: No. It's not no chance for a recovery. Some said there was some permanent damage. The issue is whether or not some of that damage can be reversed, whether or not she can improve. She's never going to be like you or me. That's never going to happen. And she has parents that are willing to take care of her in whatever state they're in. So, why kill her?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what -- I mean, what is your thoughts here? I mean, why -- I mean, I mean, I don't know what Michael's motivation is, but why not turn the guardianship back over to the parents? Is it because he believes that this is his wife and he wants to exercise what she told him, that's his viewpoint?
TRAGOS: Greta, sometimes we can never understand, and again, you and I from our backgrounds, we can never understand why some people do some things, even some horrendous things. I'll never understand Michael Schiavo.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, how hard is this on you?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, it's hard. I see my children are -- Terri's brother and sister, and we all love Terri, and I see the grief that they're having from this, and that's very troublesome to me, and also I have my own feelings. And like I said, I'm afraid Terri may feel that she's been abandoned. And we were the only people that were really communicating with her and giving her any kind of stimulation. And just a side note, Terri has not been outside for four years.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it seems to me at the very least -- I mean, I don't know how the court's results -- at the very least -- at least in my opinion the parents ought to be able to see their daughter while this is being...
TRAGOS: Well, she shouldn't be in a hospice, Greta. She should be in a full-care nursing home, not in -- a hospice is for people that are dying.
VAN SUSTEREN: And with that, we need to say good night to the three of you. Thank you all for joining me. Tough topic. Thank you all.
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