Campus News

Schindler speaks on right-to-life debate

By: Justin Worthing ~Staff Writer~

Bobby Schindler, the brother of the now-deceased Terri Schiavo, shared his side of the controversial life support case on March 10 in Kennedy Auditorium. Schindler came to Xavier to explain his opposition to euthanasia and his advocacy work following Schindler’s death.

He began by recalling the famous case that began when Schiavo collapsed in her apartment complex in 1990. She suffered severe brain injuries as a result and was kept alive on life-support until 2005.

During this time, Schindler and Schiavo’s family appealed to have Terri remain on life support while Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, requested to stop it. After numerous court hearings, the court ruled in Michael Schiavo’s favor.

Throughout his talk, Schindler wished to make clear that for him, the case was never an end-of-life issue.

“It’s really misleading to think of Terri’s situation as end-of-life,” Schindler said, “because the fact of the matter was she wasn’t dying. We’re not talking about someone that was terminal. We’re not talking about someone that was actively dying or seriously close to death. What we’re talking about tonight is the issue of food and hydration.”

He then explained limitations of the persistent vegetative state diagnosis — a condition in which patients are not unconscious but do not possess true awareness — by stating that Terri showed some signs of responsiveness to her surroundings. He also argued against the use of the label “human non-persons” and compared the actual euthanasia process to death in concentration camps.

“I’ve seen some pictures of those in the concentration camps and what they looked like,” Schindler said, “and I have to tell you, that last day or two, my sister was much worse physically than those photos. This is the most barbaric and inhumane thing I can think of doing to a human being, yet we’ve accepted it and are doing it every single day.”

Schindler concluded by articulating the right-to-life foundation for his argument, stating that people should not use quality of life or other factors to determine if someone lives or dies. For Schindler, people should never make that choice for their relatives.

“If we get to decide who gets food and hydration,” Schindler said, “Where do we stop? Basically we’re deciding who has more worth and who does not have more worth. Someone that’s not dying, that just has a brain injury, and just needs food and hydration, why take that away?”