August 13: Michael Schiavo Wants To Remove His Wife From Life Support, And Her Family Is Giving Him The Fight Of Their Life

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This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 13 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

ALAN COLMES, HOST: Terry Schindler Schiavo suffered brain damage more than a decade ago and a Florida court has ruled that she is in a persistent vegetative state (search).

Her husband Michael wants her removed from life support, but her parents have been fighting for years to keep that from happening. The Florida appeals court has ruled against the parents. They're now trying to convince the Florida Supreme Court (search) to hear a final appeal.

We'll hear from Michael Schiavo's attorney in a few minutes. First, joining us now is Terry's father, Robert Schindler, also Terry's sister, Susan Carr.

We thank you both very much for being with us.


COLMES: Mr. Schindler, let me go to you first. Why are you opposing Michael's wishes on this, who claims, I guess, that what he is doing is in his wife's…would be in her wishes.

SCHINDLER: Well, actually, they're not Terry's wishes. They're fabricated wishes. The bulk of her family and her friends have come out and said Terry never ever made these type of wishes.

And the court decision was predicated on him saying that Terry did these wishes and his brother and his sister-in-law. So they're really bogus wishes.

COLMES: Why would he be making these bogus claims?

SCHINDLER: Well, there was a motivation initially that there was an award of close to $1.6 million that was put in Terry's medical trust fund. And if Terry would have died, he inherits all that money.

COLMES: You're claiming he's doing this for crass financial reasons? That is his sole motivation? Doesn't care about the well-being of his wife and is purely in this to get money?

SCHINDLER: Well, the videos that you're looking at now and I saw on your screen depicts a girl that's been totally abandoned for the past 12 years. And that's what happens when someone has brain damage and they're not treated. And Terry's never been treated. The past three years she's been in solitary confinement.

COLMES: Susan, let me bring you in here. You know that a court has ruled and a panel in addition to that court, I guess, has ruled that, you know, they've done everything they could do and that they don't feel…a judge ruled that there would be additional medical treatment that could help.

How do you respond to what the court said about this?

SUSAN CARR, SISTER ON LIFE SUPPORT: Well, you know, we have more than 13 doctors that have come on affidavits that say that Terry can be helped. And the courts have ignored that. And other evidence that shows that Terry is not in the condition that has been misrepresented.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right. Let me go to both of you here. And I'm very sorry that this has happened. It's a tragic situation.

If the Florida appeals court ruled against you, Robert, correct, as we've been saying.

SCHINDLER: That's correct.

HANNITY: And you're trying to convince the Florida Supreme Court. I want to show this video. This is the balloon video, and you're saying this proves that she's following the balloon and that this proves that she's alive. She's aware. She's conscious, isn't that what…the case you're making?

SCHINDLER: What the balloon does, Terry, when we visit her. I mean, she just beams like a Christmas tree. And she interacts with us. She's trying to talk. We have a speech pathologist that's on record saying she's trying to talk. And it seems everybody can see that Terry is reacting, with the exception of the court system.

HANNITY: Yes. Let me show another video here. Because I think this is very important. I mean, why aren't they…you know, let's go on the side of caution here. I want to show the tape of your mom, and this is it here. This is your mother and she's obviously. I've seen this video. Seems to me she's obviously reacting to her here.

SCHINDLER: Well, when she sees her mother. There's just a distinct look of pleasure comes on her face. And then she'll start…she tries to talk. And it's incredible. I mean, she's actually trying to communicate.

HANNITY: Susan…go ahead.

SCHINDLER: No, I say, unfortunately, she hasn't had any kind of therapy. She hasn't been helped. And that's the end product of someone that's been abandoned for all those years. It's just tragic.

HANNITY: Susan, do you think they're trying to kill your sister?

CARR: Absolutely. You know, Terry is merely a disabled woman that needs aggressive therapy to get better. Keep in mind, Terry could be here today, she could be sitting next to me. She doesn't have to stay in that room.

HANNITY: And you think it's for money?

CARR: Well, I mean, initially the motivation was money, but I don't know how much money is left since most of it has gone to his attorney.

COLMES: We wish her well. We hope that this has a happy ending. We thank you both very much for being with us.

SCHINDLER: No problem.

COLMES: Robert Schindler, Susan Carr, thank you.

HANNITY: Joining us now for the other side of this story, Michael Schiavo's attorney, author of Litigation: A Spiritual Practice. George Felos is with us.

George, well, you heard everything that was just head said here. When I look at that video, I see life in that woman.

GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Well, Terry Schiavo is alive. There's absolutely no doubt about that.

She's in a vegetative condition, which means she has sleep cycles, she has wake cycles. Her body can respond to the environment, but she has no consciousness. And that's not me saying this. We've had two trials over 5 1/2 years of litigation, a trial judge and panels of appellate court that said the same thing.

HANNITY: All right. If that's the case and he doesn't want this to happen, and he wants to be done with this in the sense that he wants to pull off the life support. And the parents and the sister want it, why wouldn't he at least give them that wish and if they want to take care of her now and they want to take over the medical care of her, why can't they just say, ‘OK, this is important to you, I disagree but if it's important to you, it's your daughter. It's your sister, I loved her once. Let me give her to you.’

Why doesn't he just have the graciousness to do that for them?

FELOS: He didn't love her once, he loves her now. And the thing is this case is not about the parents' wishes or the husband's wishes. It's about Terry's wish. She has the right, even though she's incapacitated, to make her own treatment decisions.

HANNITY: But do you have any evidence she wanted this?

FELOS: Terry Schiavo said if she ever had to be dependent on the care of others, she wouldn't want to remain.

HANNITY: Did she say it in writing?

FELOS: Not in writing. She said, ‘No tubes for me.’ She said, ‘I don't want to stay alive artificially.’ But that's not me saying that. The court found that those were her wishes by clear and convincing evidence.

COLMES: It's Alan Colmes. Let me ask you about the charges that your client is in this for the money. You heard that charge being made just a few moments ago. Can you address that, please?

FELOS: It's just preposterous. When there was money, my client offered to donate it to charity to end this case. And there is no money. My client won't receive a penny as a result of Terry's death.

I mean, he has been in this case because he's a husband who said to his wife when his wife said, ‘Honey, please don't let me live that way, promise me,’ he's been keeping his promise. And at a great price.

COLMES: Well, the parents are saying that those were not her wishes. Her parents are saying that it's not what she wanted. So how do you prove that it was?

FELOS: Well, that's what we have courts for and that's what we have trials. We had an independent person, a judge, listen to our witnesses, listen to their witnesses, and this is the judge's conclusion.

The Schindlers have had an opportunity to present their doctors and we've presented our doctors. And the courts found beyond any doubt whatsoever that Terry is in a vegetative state.

COLMES: Why not err on the side of life and on the side of the possibility that some miracle could take place?

FELOS: Well, I'm all in favor of miracles but if you take the position that a miracle could take place at anytime then everyone would have to be hooked up to life support and medical treatment against their wishes.

COLMES: But if the family, like the parents, are willing to support her, are willing to take care of her, and you never know what can happen, stranger things have happened, why not err on that side, the side of life over death?

FELOS: Because we have a right to refuse medical treatment. Just because there's a treatment out there that can be applied to us, it doesn't mean we have to have it.

And this case is not about her parent’s ideology. They may want it for themselves, but that's not what Terry wanted. And we have a duty and her husband has a duty to have these wishes carried out.

HANNITY: All right. Well, I find myself in agreement with Alan. Err on the side of life in this particular case. Appreciate you being with us. Thank you for your time.

FELOS: Or condemn somebody to a life that they chose not to live.

HANNITY: You never know. Miracles can happen. I mean, I believe in them. Thank you, Mr. Felos.

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