The Terri Schiavo case
The Terri Schiavo case (pron.: /ˈʃaɪvoʊ/) was a legal struggle involving prolonged life support in the United States that lasted from 1998 to 2005. The issue was whether to carry out the decision of the husband of Teresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo to terminate life support for her. Terri was diagnosed by doctors as being in a persistent vegetative state. The highly publicized and prolonged series of legal challenges presented by her parents and by state and federal legislative intervention effected a seven-year delay before life support finally was terminated.
Terri Schiavo collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida, home in full cardiac arrest on February 25, 1990. She suffered massive brain damage due to lack of oxygen and, after two and a half months in a coma, her diagnosis was changed to vegetative state. For the next few years doctors attempted speech and physical therapy and other experimental therapy, hoping to return her to a state of awareness. In 1998 Schiavo's husband, Michael, petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida (Pinellas County), to remove her feeding tube pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 765.401(3). He was opposed by Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who argued that she was conscious. The court determined that she would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures, and on April 24, 2001, her feeding tube was removed for the first time, only to be reinserted several days later. On February 25, 2005, a Pinellas County judge ordered the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Several appeals and federal government intervention followed, which included U.S. President George W. Bush returning to Washington D.C. to sign legislation designed to keep her alive. After all attempts at appeals through the federal court system upheld the original decision to remove the feeding tube, staff at the Pinellas Park hospice facility where Terri was being cared for disconnected the feeding tube on March 18, 2005, and she died on March 31, 2005. In all, the Schiavo case involved 14 appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; five suits in federal district court; Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; federal legislation (the Palm Sunday Compromise); and four denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States. The case also spurred highly visible activism from the pro-life movement and disability rights groups.
Since Schiavo's death, both her husband and her family have written books on their side of the case, and both have also been involved in activism over its larger issues