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February 2, 2006

Haleigh Poutre: Bobby Schindler Speaks Out

Topics: Commentary

Response to Cathy Young of the Boston Globe

Dear Ms. Young,

I writing in response to your column, "Haleigh Poutre is no Terri Schiavo".

After reading all of the dishonesty that you purport as truths in regard to my sister Terri, I have to say that this is not only the most irresponsible article that I have yet to read from the media regarding Terri's situation, but possibly the most egregious.

You wrote that, "Schiavo had been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, and had undergone a barrage of tests showing that she had no higher brain functioning and no consciousness - a fact on which all unbiased medical experts agreed."

I want to know how you've researched Terri's case, and how you've obtained this information. Could it be that you've gathered your 'facts' from the other opinion pieces similar to the one you've written about Terri?

If you are referring to autopsy that ostensibly proved that Terri was PVS, then you are entirely wrong. The Independent Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy, Dr. Jon Thogmartin, went to great lengths to caution those reviewing Terri's autopsy that a post-mortem, forensic examination could neither confirm nor refute a diagnosis of persistent vegetative state. This is because PVS is a clinical diagnosis based on the behaviors of a living patient and not forensic pathology.

Moreover, Dr. Stephen Nelson - a consulting pathologist who assisted Dr. Thogmartin with the autopsy report - admitted that, while Terri's symptoms were consistent with PVS, he could not rule out the possibility that Terri was in a minimally conscious state.

And there are numerous pathologists and physicians that have responded to the autopsy finding as being misleading and ambiguous. This information could have been and still can be easily provided to you.

I wonder if you were you aware that - as indicated in Terri's medical records - she was talking when given rehabilitation in the months following her injury? This completely refutes the PVS diagnosis.

Additionally, did you know that there were more doctors on record with the court (from some of the most distinguished institutions from across the country) stating that Terri was not in PVS than there were doctors that said she was? Furthermore, most of these affidavits (there are more than 42 in total) submitted by these doctors said that if Terri was given proper therapy, her functioning capacity could have improved. Why was this never reported by the media?

Did you know that a recent British Medical Journal has reported that nearly 43% of all PVS diagnoses are, in fact, misdiagnoses? Based on this report, the Independent Medical Examiner findings, the sworn testimony and affidavits of over 42 physicians, neurologists and other healthcare professionals contradicting that Terri was in PVS, I believe it is incredibly reckless for you to make the sweeping statement that Terri was PVS.

The fact that my sister received no therapy for more than thirteen years, which also was rarely if ever reported by the media, only added to the deterioration of her condition. No autopsy report could have ever determined how much Terri would have improved if she was receiving proper rehabilitation and therapy during the past thirteen years.

To make the statement that, ". . . all unbiased medical experts agreed" as to the condition of my sister is so completely disingenuous that the only conclusion I can draw is that you did absolutely no research into the doctors that evaluated Terri.

Dr. Ronald Cranford, hired by Michael Schiavo, has testified in almost every major case that the removal of the feeding tube should be permitted. He even takes pleasure in the moniker, Dr. Humane Death. To call him 'unbiased' is like calling Rush Limbaugh a liberal democrat. And one of the other doctors that testified in my sister trial, Dr. Peter Bambakidis, was later discovered as having ties to same organization as Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos.

But aside from all this, what is really sad is that your article and so many others like yours does nothing but discriminate against the disabled by labeling them with this dangerous and subjective PVS diagnosis. The PVS diagnosis was created for one reason and to serve only one purpose - to kill those that are the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

No amount of damage to the brain or level of disability should give anyone the authority to kill. But this is exactly what you are saying - and is now happening all the time - that we can justify the killing of human beings because they have reached a level of profound brain damage that is unacceptable for us to care for them anymore. So, tell me, how long do you give Haliegh to improve before you give up on her and decide that she must die?

What is really shameful though is that I have to respond to articles like yours and defend my sister's life and explain why her family should have been permitted to love her.

Columnist Nat Hentoff commented on the media and how they have handled my sister's case. He said that it was so shoddy and inaccurate that it was the worst case of 'journalistic malpractice' that he's seen in 25 years.

It continues.

Bobby Schindler

Source: Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation

Posted by tim at February 2, 2006 11:33 PM

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Excellent letter! I am so glad he wrote it!!!

God Bless Bobby Schindler!

Posted by: SureHowDoYouKnow [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 3, 2006 3:27 AM

They'd better print this letter...I'm fed up with all the Terri myths and other rubbish spread by people like Cathy Young.

Posted by: thedegu [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 5, 2006 3:13 PM

What a wonderful letter by Bobby! I am so grateful that he continues to speak up for not only Terri but all the disabled among us!

Posted by: juleni [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2006 4:04 AM

Below is a letter sent out by RightMarch regarding Michael Schiavo's "PAC" - against Terri. While this is from a Right-side group politically, remember that the fight for Terri's fight was neither right nor left - or perhaps both right and left (e.g. LiberalsforTerri, et. al.). The important point is, Michael is doing something outrageous to all present and future disabled people through his guilty attempt to wipe out the work of anyone who helped Terri & to try to ease his forever-compromised conscience, and someone is trying to intervene, which is wonderful. Please help the effort to halt Michael in his drive to deny his seared conscience:

This CONSERVATIVE ALERT is a special message from the RightMarch.com PAC:

This is a very difficult letter for me to write. But I'm asking you to PLEASE, read it all the way through.

I'm sure you remember last year, when judicial activists and liberal politicians worked together and starved an innocent young disabled woman to death -- Terri Schindler Schiavo.

I remember it all too well. I was there in Florida, trying to save Terri's life.

Contrary to anything you may have heard, Terri was NOT brain dead; Terri was NOT in a coma; she was NOT in a "persistent vegetative state;" nor was she on ANY life-support system.

Terri laughed, Terri cried, she moved, and she made child-like attempts at speech with her family. Sometimes she would say "Mom" or "Dad" or "yeah" when they asked her a question. When her mother or father kissed her hello or goodbye, she would look at them and "pucker up" her lips.

This may not seem like much to you, but it meant everything to Terri's family. It told them she was still there, she still knew them, and with therapy and time she could have had some level of recovery.

I know that there are some hard-hearted people who believe that due to Terri Shiavo's condition, she is better off dead. Words cannot describe the pain and anger such sentiments cause me. This was a human being -- her parents' daughter, their little girl -- and even in her disabled condition, she still had the right to life and the right to be loved and cared for by her family.

After they killed her, I vowed to do everything in my power to make sure nothing so horrible could ever happen again in America. And I thanked the statesmen and activists who did everything in their power to try and save her from starvation. I was especially thankful to the tens of thousands of RightMarch.com activists across the nation, who called, wrote, and even travelled to Florida to join us in speaking with legislators and participating in vigils and protests on behalf of Terri.

Now Michael Schiavo, Terri's estranged husband who denied her any therapy for over a decade and then collaborated with those activist judges and legislators to starve her to death, has stepped into the media spotlight once again. He's started a PAC (political action committee) to exploit Terri's name and raise money to defeat the Congressmen and Senators who tried to save her life.

He even has the nerve to call it "TerriPAC". He should be ashamed of himself, but instead he paints himself as a victim and a hero, who "loved his wife". (Never mind the he lived with his "fiancee" the whole time Terri was being starved, had two children by her, and spent the money that was supposed to be for Terri's rehabilitation on lawyers in order to have her killed.) Now, once again, Michael Schiavo is hitting the news shows and the talk show circuit to tell the world that Terri "wanted to die" -- in fact, he was just on Keith Olbermann's liberal "news" show on MSNBC spouting the same old rhetoric.

And the media eats it up -- because they believe it means more conservatives will be voted out of office.

I believe we need to fight back -- NOW. Last year, countless thousands of members of RightMarch.com were there for Terri when she and her family needed them the most. Many were there beside me, in the halls and offices of the Florida legislature, trying to convince hard-hearted politicians to stop her court-ordered starvation. Many of you were there, when we went in for meetings with state senators and Governor Bush's aides, alongside others like Randall Terry, Alan Keyes, and even Jesse Jackson, trying to convince the governor to intervene and save Terri's life.

And so many were there, helping us to raise money to pay for the tens of thousands of dollars in expenses that Terri's family incurred, trying to save her life. I was so very grateful for everything that RightMarch.com members did to help the Schindler family in their time of greatest need.

Now, utilizing the RightMarch.com PAC, we have decided to FIGHT BACK against Michael Schiavo's blatant exploitation of Terri, and to counter everything he does -- dollar for dollar, ad for ad -- so we can support the legislators that supported Terri... and defeat the ones that contributed to her death.

We've started a new PAC project, called "Terri's List," which will focus on supporting the list of legislators that Michael Schiavo is targeting for defeat. This project name was chosen because anyone that Michael Schiavo decides to put on HIS list was, obviously, a FRIEND of Terri. But we need YOUR help to ensure this project's success. Please click through to contribute to the RightMarch.com PAC's special project, "Terri's List":


We weren't able to stop the pro-death activists from forcibly starving Terri Schiavo to death. But we CAN stop her estranged husband from exploiting her memory, and her name, in his shameful quest for vengeance against the honorable men and women who tried to stop him from killing her against her will.

Allow me to be very direct with you: if we believe Terri should not have been killed by starvation, then we have a duty before God to do something now in her name. Please, help the RightMarch.com PAC to counter Michael Schiavo's shameful attempt to exploit Terri Schiavo's good name -- help support the legislators on "Terri's List" that tried so hard to save her life.

Friend, though we may have never met, I'm asking you for your help. I am asking you to help the RightMarch.com PAC with the best gift you can give for this battle. Virtually every person reading this can give $5 or $10 dollars. Many can give $50 or $100. Some can give $500 or $1000 or even $2000 or more. An effort like this takes extensive resources, and we need much help. Every gift matters at this time! I thank you with all my heart. (Gifts are not tax-deductible.) Please give ASAP; the need is urgent now, and time is critical as the 2006 election season now starts to heat up:


Please, make your best donation now. Thank you.


William Greene, President
RightMarch.com PAC

P.S. Just before the New Year, Michael Schiavo's "TerriPAC" placed ads on several popular political websites and discussion groups to drum up support for his new project of exploitation.

Now he's BRAGGING about their early success; here's an excerpt from one of his recent e-mails: "Already, our ads have been seen by more than three quarters of a million people and countless political and opinion leaders. And as a result, our website has recorded tens of thousands of individual 'hits' from people all over the world and people are signing-up every day... In just a few weeks, TerriPAC will be announcing our first endorsed candidates for public office..."

With that, Michael Schiavo announced the TerriPAC "30 Challenge" to raise $30,000 and rank the first 3 legislators he intends to target.

We need to raise MORE money than Michael Schiavo. We need to COUNTER whoever he targets and SUPPORT them, and we need to strongly OPPOSE whoever he endorses. We need to RESCUE the memory of Terri Schindler Schiavo from the clutches of this man who betrayed her.

PLEASE, make your best donation to the RightMarch.com PAC right away, and forward this e-mail to any friends or family that you have who you think might be interested in saving Terri's good name -- even though we were unsuccessful in our attempts to save her life. This is an important battle in the war for the lives of our weak, vulnerable, and disabled brothers and sisters.


If you prefer to contribute by check, please send to:

RightMarch.com PAC
Dept. Code 7
PO Box 20277
Washington DC 20041-2277

Posted by: juleni [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2006 4:13 AM