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Protests spark debate on campus

Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed 12 days ago, but the debate on her right to live continues.

Members of the Christian organization Citytakers held an open forum in front of Cooper Hall on Tuesday afternoon to engage students in the debate. The three Citytakers who were present are also Bay Area business owners.

Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990, when she suffered a cardiac arrest,

Whether she should live or die and who has the right to make that decision has been in question for more than a decade.

“Right or wrong, everyone’s got a voice,” said Karina Stong, a member of Citytakers. “We’ve heard from Hollywood, we’ve heard from the government, why not hear from right here in Pinellas Park?”

Many students were obviously tired of hearing about the case. Others hung around and made their voices heard.

“I just don’t think it’s a quality of life that any human being should go through,” said student Alexis Puskas. She thought that despite the fact that they were just bringing up things to help support their agenda, “they got the conversation going.”

Of the 15 students who participated in the discussion, only one was noticeably for Terri’s right to live.

“Why should she die?” asked student Evan Sherman. “Who’s to judge the quality of life? Shouldn’t that be her and her alone? If we don’t know (how she feels about it), then why should she be put to death? Why should we say ‘She doesn’t have the right to live because she looks miserable?’ We don’t know if she’s miserable or not. They want to pull the plug on her water and food … because she is suffering. So what is that essentially doing? It’s inflicting more and more suffering.”

For Jeff Lewis, one of the co-founders of Citytakers, the debate has to do with the right to life and what he thinks Jesus Christ taught about the sanctity of life.

“Because it is a feeding tube, not a respirator … to pull that when there’s a right, when she can live … I would choose that. She has her eyes open, she can breathe, she’s literally starving and dehydrating,” Lewis said. “If that was somebody I loved, (I would) do whatever I could do to save their life.

“Jesus said, ‘I’m the way, the truth and the life,'” Lewis said. “‘Nobody comes to the Lord, comes to the Father, except through me.’ Another thing he said is that, ‘I’ve come that you may have life, and life abundant,’ so the sanctity of life is so important. As we start to move that line and we start to decide, ‘Where life? Where death?’ and we start narrowing it and narrowing it … and Jesus is a God of life. We want a society that has a sanctity for life, and to support and encourage that.”

Lewis also said situations like this are going on all over the country.

“There are a lot of people in nursing homes that, if somebody didn’t physically bring their food to them, they would die,” said Lewis. “If we stopped feeding them, many of those people (providers) would be in prison. There’s really no difference here.”

Another member of Citytakers, John Lonardo, thought all should have concern for Schiavo.

“I think we should care only because God has put in us to love our neighbor,” said Lonardo.

As the discussion progressed, it became more about the word of Jesus than saving Schiavo.

“Everybody here has heard the truth,” said Lonardo. “Jesus is the way to the Father.”

“It’s doesn’t mean he’s happy with all things,” Lonardo added. “God loves every person. The homosexual, the drug addict, the curser….”

He added that although God loves everyone, the only way to heaven is to believe in Jesus.

“Without Jesus, you move along in your own wisdom, your own abilities, and you’ll die in that sin.”