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March 19, 2005

Update from Hospice Woodside - March 19, 2005

Topics: Terri Schiavo's Life Counts

This report of today's activities at Woodside Hospice comes from the Schindler's media office. It offers great insight on what it's like at ground zero - where Terri is being killed.

"There were conservatives, liberals, Christians, Jewish people, people with no particular religious leaning, doctors, nurses, disabled persons, young people, elderly people and so on. It felt good to see perfect strangers standing in solidarity, but it also felt very strange that people would have to beg for the life of a stranger."

- via email by Pamela Hennessy, Schindler's media office(
I spent the better part of the day in front of Hospice Woodside in Pinellas Park, Florida - along with a hefty gathering of people from all over the country. The media presence is almost breathtaking.

There is a woman who runs a small shop across the road from the hospice by the name of Stephanie. She has, essentially, closed down her shop and moved her inventory aside to give the Schindler family a place to sit and rest, away from the media and fuss that is going on outside.

The City of Pinellas Park has meshed off all the public encroachments and parking areas. Doing so has made it next to impossible for most of the disability community to access the area. I find it intentional.

This morning, Mary Schindler asked that her daughter's life be spared on national television. It appears that lawmakers are feeling a pang of guilt. Today, it was settled that lawmakers in the Congress would resolve the matter of the Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act tomorrow, Palm Sunday, before adjourning for the regular spring recess.

There have been a few arrests. One man from out of state approached the front door of Hospice with Communion for Terri and asked the Hospice personnel to deliver it to her. He was hauled off. Another man, whom I don't know, crossed the police line in front of Hospice with a symbolic cup of water and chunk of bread. He was hauled off. The Schindler family is not, in any way, encouraging public disobedience because they simply don't want to see this tragedy to turn into personal problems for people who have been so supportive and kind to them and Terri.

People prayed. Many of us spoke to media about what has happened in Terri's case. At any given time, there are between 100 and 200 people present. Sometimes, the numbers are smaller, but it's not for long.

When I arrived early today, there were a couple of 'pup' tents erected on the knoll. People had spent the night there. There are several who are depriving themselves. I worry about them. I was only brave enough to stop eating, but some are depriving themselves of hydration as well and it's already beginning to show.

When I walked up to the corner of 66th street and 102nd avenue, there was some guy, with a stethoscope draped around his neck and a megaphone, declaring loudly that Terri has been dead for 15 years and that anyone supporting her civil liberties is nothing but an idiot. Terri's supporters kept their cool and just kept on with displaying their signs to cars passing by. I was astounded by the absolute arrogance and unkindness of the guy with the blowhorn.

I spoke with an AP reporter, who is well known to me and who wanted to get my take on how all of this has effected the Schindler family. I told him this rubbish about the Schindler's efforts being a 'well-financed, well-organized cause' that George Felos loves to state is simply that. Rubbish. I asked him to visit Mr. Felos's lavish and well-appointed property and then visit the Schindlers' modest flat. They aren't well-financed or well-organized. They are just a family trying to do the best they can for their daughter and people have wrapped their arms around them. No big surprise there. I also told the reporter that no family should be put through this horror.

A number of people who are only known over the internet came round. Some are from blogs and some are from message boards. They came from across the country to make some attempt at shouldering part of Terri's suffering. There were conservatives, liberals, Christians, Jewish people, people with no particular religious leaning, doctors, nurses, disabled persons, young people, elderly people and so on. It felt good to see perfect strangers standing in solidarity, but it also felt very strange that people would have to beg for the life of a stranger.

Word came through that the congress is poised to pass the federal equivalent of Florida's "Terri's Law", but firm support is still required by voters.

Terri's sister, who I saw collectively for about two minutes, is tired, but hopeful. The family's attorney, David Gibbs, seemed rather motivated but I know he hasn't slept in days. Terri's parents are as frightened as two people could be. It's all rather uncomfortable to watch.

On the way home from the Hospice, I heard a radio program with Michael Schiavo's former employer and attorney, Daniel Greico, claiming that Michael provided years upon years of rehabilitation for Terri. A very close friend of Terri's by the name of Tom phoned in to the program to dispute this nonsense. He related, on air, how he used to sing and chant and joke and goof with Terri and how she tried her damndest to carry on with him. She would light up when she heard Tom's deep, rock'n'roll DJ voice. Naturally, Terri reacted to Tom with a great deal of fondness so he was barred from seeing her. He recently wrote how awestruck he was at how lonesome Terri is and how utterly unnecessary that is.

When I finally got home, I took a quick radio interview with Barbara Simpson, a staunch supporter of patient's rights in San Francisco and a columnist for World Net Daily who has written a number of brilliant pieces on Terri's situation. Per usual, Ms. Simpson cut through the drama and got to the meat of the matter - is it appropriate to force death on someone who cannot fight you off?

Now that the day is winding to an end, I cannot stop worrying about Terri and those who are trying to shoulder her suffering by depriving themselves. Look. It's entirely senseless to starve and dehydrate a perfectly healthy body. The people doing this to themselves understand that and know what they may face because of their actions. But, they made that choice. Terri Schiavo did not. There is your difference. At the end of the day, I hope we all make it out of here alive.

Something - anything - something needs to be done with this rogue b-----d of a judge.

Cross posted at BlogsForTerri

Posted by Hyscience at March 19, 2005 9:52 PM

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