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March 21, 2005

Thoughts on Terri Schiavo

This entry was posted in the following categories: Political , Social

I'm waiting for word from BlogsForTerri or Captain's Quarters (currently, the two most current blogs on this. BlogsForTerri seems to be better at Florida activities (including tips not very useful for me ("Come over to the courthouse now" -- wish I could)), and Captain's Quarters seems the best source for DC news (but I'm still watching both, even though Congress and the President have done what they can).

Right now (I gather), the two sides have probably made their arguments in federal court; according to CNN, each side will have 30 minutes, and it's been almost 3 hours since the start of the hearing. So I presume that the judge is mulling over things, and all we can do is pray and wait.

I was trying to answer the question, "Why is Michael Schiavo doing this?" There are some possible answers, and I'm going to think out loud about some of them (my information is based on the pro-Terri websites I've found. The pro-Michael websites are hard to find):

"Terri wants to die": This is the answer he's been giving for at least the past 6 years (I'm looking at the timeline if you want to follow along). He's wanted her to die since 1993 (when he posted "Do not Resuscitate" orders). I find this claim very hard to believe. It raises a lot of questions. First and foremost is, why did he wait 7 years before mentioning it? There's also the "slip" last Friday night on Larry King Live where he admits that he doesn't know what she wanted. If she really wanted to die, and told him (and his siblings), wouldn't he have mentioned it earlier?


Money: I can't find the reference to what he gets (that he doesn't already have) if she dies, but I recall reading somewhere that if she dies, he gets a nice chunk o' change. This sounds like a very compelling motive, and one that has been bantered about a lot. I'm not saying it's not, but there are a couple arguments against it (and a rebuttal, too). 1, he offered, back in 1998 to donate the inheritance to charity. 2, someone offered him a cool million to give her parents guardianship. The rebuttals are 1, talk is cheap. Maybe that was just lip service, and 2, maybe he stands to inherit a lot more than a million, and he's just waiting for a higher bidder.

In short, I don't know. It might be part of the reason, or even all. I don't think it's none of the reason. There are a lot of unknowns in this scenario. How much of the settlement money is left? Does he have life insurance.


Strangulation: This is something that's been mentioned here and there. Did Michael strangle Terri, and did that cause all the problems she's been having? This one has some compelling arguments in favor of it. Looking again at the timeline, we see that at first he seemed to try to help her (well, inconclusive; I read her discharge record in May, 1990, and there's one line that says, "intensive rehabilitation care was not approved", but it doesn't say if the "family" (Michael) or the insurance company didn't approve it), but later stops all that.

One scenario that has some plausibility behind it is this: Michael attempts to strangle her. In order to avoid suspicion, he makes a show of trying to take care of her. But when the rehab shows that she may recover her speech and be able to accuse him, he halts the treatment and tries to have her killed.

The discharge record would give us the best clues, one would think. It states that she had a rigid neck when she was first admitted. But it doesn't say why she had a lack of oxygen. It does say that she was going to some extreme measures to keep her weight down. It doesn't say how much she weighed, but she was drinking "10-15 glasses of iced tea" [a day?]. She did have a potassium deficiency that was easily treated. I don't know if that can cause a lack of oxygen. Interesting to note is that her family's website has not refuted the possibility that a potassium deficiency could cause lack of oxygen. But they also point out that meds given by the paramedics could themselves cause low potassium.

There's another question that needs answering here: if he did strangle her, what would he be charged with (attempted murder, presumably), and what are the statute of limitations in FL on that? The family's talking points say that they have expired. That may tend to eliminate that as a motive.


When I started writing this, my thought was to make the strangulation theory my conclusion. But now I'm beginning to wonder. So I'll add another scenario:

Family pressures (in the person of his common-law wife, Jodi): It wasn't until the year he was engaged to Jodi that the timeline first mentions court actions to starve her. Between '92 and '97, he seemed content to just wait for her to die (don't treat her, don't resuscitate, etc). But in '97, I see the court actions to that end. I wonder if Jodi was jealous of Terri (or just wanted to get legally married) and encouraged Michael to take a more active role in Terri's demise.

It's possible we'll never know what really happened. It seems it's almost as hard to know what's going on in Michael's head as in Terri's head.

My hope is that somehow Terri's parents will get guardianship, and can get her the therapy she needs. This would do several different things. 1, she may recover enough to be able to speek (and maybe tell what really happened the morning of February 25, 1990), and 2, new tests, and a release of all records may provide some more clues. I don't know how that would come about; whether the federal judge can either (a) make a ruling to that end, or (b) get judge Greer replaced.

But for now, all we can do is wait and pray.

Update while writing this: the judge has declined to rule. So we wear our fingernails and/or prayer ropes down some more...

Michael

Posted by mlv at March 21, 2005 07:29 PM

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