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March 16, 2005

Michael, is Starvation Really Painless?

Topics: News

Last night Michael Schiavo and his attorney, George Felos, appeared on Nightline to discuss their bid to withhold nourishment and hydration from Terri Schiavo for the purpose of ending her life. Michael’s statements included the following assertions

Terry will not be starved to death. Her nutrition and hydration will be taken away. This happens across this country every day.

Death through removing somebody's nutrition is very painless. That has been brought to the courts many of times. Doctors have come in and testified. It is a very painless procedure.

I hope that the viewing audience was able to see through Michael's absurd suggestion that withholding nourishment for the purpose of ending life is somehow different than starving a person to death.

Michael also claimed that his wife’s death would be "painless" and Nightline asked no follow-up questions nor produced any rebuttal witnesses. They could have interviewed Kate Adamson who at one time was in a coma and survived having nourishment withdrawn for eight days. Here is what she said,

ADAMSON: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

Nightline could have mentioned that forced starvation is considered torture and a violation of international law [more].
According to medical experts, after her feeding tube is removed, Mrs. Schiavo will experience extreme pain and significant psychological distress during the two weeks that her starvation-execution is expected to take.

Her skin, tongue and lips will crack due to dehydration. Schiavo will likely suffer chronic nosebleeds as mucous membranes dry out, followed by heaving and vomiting as the stomach lining dries out.

Her mouth is expected to develop painful ulcers. As Schiavo's brain is deprived of fluid, she is expected to suffer grand mal seizures. - Newsmax

And, Nightline could have asked any nurse that has actually observed the "procedure" described as "painless" by Michael Schiavo. Here is what one such individual wrote on her blog:
All ethics put aside, all arguments about what is a life and what isn’t-the very worst part of what I do is watching others die a slow death. It is horrible and I don’t deal well with it.

By removing nutrition and hydration via the tubes, patients take days to die. They literally dry out. There skin becomes dry and scaly; their lips dry out and then the mouth can no longer open. The person either rolls in the fetal position and stays that way, or they lay out flat. They no longer void and their eyes become sunk in very deep.

I won’t go into anymore details as it is kind of gross, but it isn’t a pretty thing. Usually the docs and nurses do a “terrific” job with pain killers. The dying, supposedly, feel no pain. I don’t think that is ever true. I see them moaning and I have seen little tears rolling out of their dry eyes. The last patient I witnessed being put to death like this took 3 weeks to go. How sweet.

I hate to use the term “put to death” but that is what it is. No need to beat around the bush here and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t that simple. It’s wrong and it’s barbaric. Life is life, and anyone alive who has not made their wishes known should be allowed to live. As to quality of life, who are we to decide what that is? - AndRightlySo

The grim reality is that murder through starvation is immoral, ugly and painful no matter how euthanasia activists attempt to dress it up. The complicity of ABC News in promoting without question Michael's characterization of killing via starvation in a stinging indictment against the network.

Update: Mike Bennett has more.

Posted by tim at March 16, 2005 11:01 AM

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Tracked on March 16, 2005 11:36 AM


If it is painless then why is morphine administerd when it is practiced. Morphine which, by the way will be denied Terri thanks to Mr.Wonderful's no medication order.

Posted by: J Rob at March 16, 2005 11:16 AM

And she won't be allowed to receive the Viaticum, which is Holy Communion for the Dying that Catholics receive on their death beds. I read that she would not be able to receive it by mouth but only through her "feeding tube". Well, if its removed, then she can't have it that way, can she?

I wish the Nightline interviewer had asked him about the bone scan! And the fact he didn't administer CPR!

Posted by: Elizabeth V at March 16, 2005 11:41 AM

Nightline's interview with Michael Schiavo was a pathetic joke....a perpetuator of lies and superstition...So much for probing MainStream journalism that relentlessly strives for the truth .Phooey...I realize now tht MSM main function is to drive up ratings with teasers. T'Hell with the truth.
Thank G-d for the Wizards of Blog and the Empire Journal.....true modern day American patriots.

Posted by: JoMarley at March 16, 2005 12:08 PM

The timing of the show also suggests a desire on the part on ABC to influence the Florida legislature, IMO.

Posted by: Alice at March 16, 2005 12:22 PM

After listening to Micheal Schiavo, it sound to me that he's the one fighting for his life!

Posted by: LeaC at March 16, 2005 12:41 PM

You're right Lea, he is fighting for his life - or he should be. As hard as it is, he needs our prayers probably more than Terri does. Her soul is safer than his right now and perhaps it (her soul) is praying for his as they were "joined" in holy matrimony.

I don't know why it's frightening for me to realize that (at this point) prayer is "all we have."

Posted by: MaryH at March 16, 2005 12:49 PM

I was watching Animal Cops the other night, animal owners getting arrested for starving their animals. What a backwards society we live in where the law allows a man to starve his wife to death!

Posted by: Kristal H. at March 16, 2005 2:09 PM

Is it possible that in America, the home of the free and the brave, that this might be allowed to happen? How could they even consider it? When Mr.Schiavo married Terri, even if they didn't say it in their wedding vows (I don't know if they did), he married her for better or for WORSE, for richer or for poorer, in SICKNESS and in health! We must pray for Terri's life. Over in other contries some people might be fearful of being killed. Image here, in America, that Terri is going to be allowed to be slowly and excruciatingly killed with no say. She doesn't even have the opportunity!


Posted by: Elizabeth at March 16, 2005 2:19 PM

How do the doctors know it is painless, has anyone ever come back from the dead to say?
There is no way of measuring pain!!! period.

Posted by: cheryl at March 16, 2005 2:26 PM

In a sense, someone has come back - Kate Adamson. As mentioned in my post, she tells about the pain and agony she experienced.

Posted by: tim at March 16, 2005 2:37 PM

I, even as a commoner I know that if the brain is gone how do they (the parents) or anyone else expect her to partly recover??? All this is now is selling newspapers and tv coverage. Let this poor women go and everyone else go on with their lives

Posted by: lorrie at March 16, 2005 3:35 PM

Lorrie > Frankly, if they wanted to administer a fatal dose of morphine, I'd probably be okay with it. That, at least, would be quick and painless. But starving someone to death? How can you possibly think such a think is okay?

Posted by: amy at March 16, 2005 3:39 PM


Terri's 'brain' isn't 'gone'. She is a human being who has suffered brain damage, but damage isn't the same as 'gone'. 33 doctors, one of whom is a neurologist Nobel Prize nominee, have sworn affidavits testifying that she is not in a 'persistant vegetative state' and can be rehabilitated. (The Nobel nominee doctor actually examined her!) In fact, before her husband won his malpractice money (he said he'd use only for her rehabilitation) she was in a facility that marked her condition as 'improving'. She swallows her own saliva and used to be able to swallow jello & pudding. Her husband stopped those efforts when he had the cash. Terri can laugh, cry, responds to music, her mother's voice, her father's kisses and tries to speak. She isn't a dead body waiting to be 'let go'. She is a disabled woman waiting to be given the help she should have been getting, that her husband PROMISED she would receive, all along.

Posted by: shana at March 16, 2005 3:49 PM

Two additional points. First, we accept the sanctity of human life independent of one’s health and capabilities and do not discriminate on the basis of a person’s disabilities. Terri’s value as a human person is equal to anyone of us. Her affliction does not justify ending her life via starvation or lethal injection. Second, Terri is not brain dead as the media reports but responds and communicates. This is not about selling newspapers (in general the newspapers support Terri’s death). This is about the struggle for one woman’s life which euthanasia activists using to set precedence.

Posted by: tim at March 16, 2005 3:50 PM

BTW, great comment shana. we composed our replies at the same time.

Posted by: tim at March 16, 2005 3:51 PM

michael Schiavo needs to have this guardianship take away from him for misusing her funds. He should never have been allowed to uae her money for legal fees.

WAKE UP MICHAEL AND ADMIT YOU CAN NOT BE OBJECTIVE!!! Terry's condition is not an ideal way to be but that's life... Not everything or everyone is going to be perfect.

Terri is brain damaged, not brain dead!

I am so thankful my family takes such good care of my sister. She is much worse off than Terri but she is still able to respond . My sister was in a car wreck over 2 decades ago. It is not an ideal situation but we do what we have to do.

I really think michael needs to butt out and give the guardianship up!!!!! He obviously is not capable of protecting Terri.

Posted by: linda franklin at March 16, 2005 4:00 PM