I Believe in Divorce by
Janet Folger, President, Faith
13 October 2003
Terri Schiavo was in a coma, and is gradually recovering, and
her husband (who has a new fiancee, how convenient) has taken
legal action to order her feeding tube removed this Wednesday,
against Terri's parents' wishes, Terri's wishes - she is able
to communicate to her parents that she is coherent and is improving
- and against the intervention of Governor Jeb Bush. Mr. Schiavo
could have just gotten a divorce, but since there's money involved
($1.3 million)....the only way to save Terri's life is if her
attorney can file on her behalf for divorce.
“Why I believe
in divorce” is not a column I would have anticipated writing—especially
at the unveiling of National Marriage Protection Week. You see,
divorce is at the root of many societal ills; just not this
case is regarding Terri Schindler-Schiavo—a 39-year-old
Florida woman who became disabled following an unexplained incident
13 years ago. Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler,
have spent their retirement fighting for her life. But it’s
worth it, they say, when they see her smiling face light-up
every time they see her.
They love her, but
don’t have any say in her care because she is still legally
married to Michael Schiavo—Terri’s legal guardian.
The problem? Terri’s
husband, Michael has been living with another woman he calls
his “fiancée” for nearly ten years. He’s
even fathered a child by her, and there’s another on the
way. Can you say “conflict of interest?”
According to a sworn
affidavit, Carla Sauer Iyer, R.N., who cared for Terri at the
Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center from April 1995 to
July 1996, Michael isn’t all too pleased that his wife
is still alive. He was frequently overheard to say statements
like: “Has she died yet?” and, “When is that
b---- going to die?” Just the kind of guardian any father
would want for his daughter.
he just divorce her and move on?
Well, one theory
is that not only is Michael her legal guardian, he is her rich
legal guardian. He was awarded over a million dollars in a malpractice
settlement—$750,000 of which was earmarked for Terri’s
rehabilitative care. Except the money never went for Terri’s
rehabilitative care; it is being spent on legal fees to remove
all of her care—including her food and water.
Question: How do
you get rid of your wife and still keep all of her money?
takes only three easy steps:
1. Hire an attorney
that thinks starving a disabled woman is a good idea. Enter
George Felos. At an appeals court hearing in August 2001, Felos
set a high standard for personhood: "The litmus test,”
he said, “is whether or not a person can bring a spoon
to their mouth." Nice guy—setting a standard for
personhood that would empty out every nursing home, rehab and
daycare center in the country.
2. Find a neurologist
who thinks starving a disabled woman is a good idea. Enter Ron
Cranford. He’s declared more people to be “vegetables”
than you’ll find at the salad bar in a Bob’s Big
Boy. A clever strategy when you want to throw people away as
easily as you would scrape off your plate.
3. Find a judge
who thinks starving a disabled woman is a good idea. Enter Judge
George Greer of Florida’s 6th Circuit Court who has ordered
Terri to be starved to death on Wednesday, October 15th at 2:00
p.m.—despite the plea from Terri’s parents and Governor
Jeb Bush to try and feed her by mouth before starving her outright.
But Judge Greer didn’t know if that would work. He doesn’t
know, because he wouldn’t let them try it. By the way,
Judge Greer is up for re-election. Not sure how you’d
vote? Try skipping food and water for a week and see how you
there’s more. According to Iyer’s sworn affidavit,
“Any time Terri would be sick, …with a … fluid
buildup in her lungs, colds, or pneumonia, Michael would be
visibly excited, thrilled even, hoping that she would die. He
would say something like, ‘Hallelujah! You've made my
day!’ …‘I'm going to be rich!’ and would
talk about all the things he would buy when Terri died, which
included a new car, a new boat…among other things.”
Starvation and dehydration
is so brutal, so agonizing, we wouldn’t do it to the most
hardened criminal on death row. In fact, if you did it to a
dog, you’d go to jail for cruelty. But for a disabled
woman, that’s another matter. When Terri made her wedding
vow, “till death do us part,” I’m pretty sure
this is not what she had in mind.
So let’s review
Starve a dog: go to jail—Do not pass “go;”
Do not collect $200.
Starve a disabled woman—Collect $1.3 million, a new car,
a new boat, and a new family.
Michael can take that new boat for a test run, lawyers on Terri’s
behalf are filing for divorce. Pick a reason, any reason, adultery
and starvation, are two that come to mind. Don’t get me
wrong, I’m against divorce as a rule, but if given a choice
between divorce or death by starvation and dehydration, I can
tell you which curtain I’d pick. My closing argument before
the court? Duh.