At 25 years old, Terri Schiavo was a beautiful woman with her whole life ahead of her. Today she is 38 and for the past 13 years she has been in a coma-like state. This week has started yet another round of trials, pitting her husband Michael Schiavo against her parents Robert and Mary Schindler in the question of whether, after 13 years, Terri’s food and water apparatuses should be unplugged. This situation is understandably difficult, but Terri’s parents should allow her to pass with dignity and allow Michael to move on with his life.
Terri can blink, make sounds and move her body, but her movements are uncontrolled and she is incapable of communication. In testimony Wednesday, a neurologist from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation said that Terri has brain damage that can’t be reversed — all her movements are involuntary.
Michael has been fighting for seven years to cut off Terri’s machines. In April 2001, a Florida Supreme Court judge agreed, but Terri’s parents had it postponed on appeal. For several years, Michael has had a girlfriend and, although it’s clear he has a desire to move on, he cannot legally divorce his mentally incapacitated wife. Michael has always maintained that Terri said she did not want to be kept on life support, should the need arise. Not surprisingly, her parents deny it.
The Schindlers have refused to allow their daughter to die, holding out hope that there will be a miracle. At least 10 doctors have stated that Terri could be saved and become fully functioning. But just as many other doctors have stated that there is no way for Terri ever to recover, her chances were lost after the first 12 months.
Terri Schiavo is not living a life that any 38-year-old should. It may be selfish for Michael to want to let her die, but it’s more selfish of her parents to keep their daughter living on tubes because they can’t cope with her loss. Terri Schiavo’s life is no life at all.