In reading the full report from Jay Wolfson, the Guardian Ad Litem appointed by Jeb Bush to review the entire history of the case and make recommendations, I came across this very disturbing passage. It concerns testimony from Terri’s family in 2000 in one of the many appeals they’ve filed to reverse the court’s decision:
Testimony provided by members of the Schindler family included very personal statements about their desire and intention to ensure that Theresa remain alive. Throughout the course of the litigation, deposition and trial testimony by members of the Schindler family voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs. Nearly gruesome examples were given, eliciting agreement by family members that in the event Theresa should contract diabetes and subsequent gangrene in each of her limbs, they would agree to amputate each limb, and would then, were she to be diagnosed with heart disease, perform open heart surgery. There was additional, difficult testimony that appeared to establish that despite the sad and undesirable condition of Theresa, the parents still derived joy from having her alive, even if Theresa might not be at all aware of her environment given the persistent vegetative state. Within the testimony, as part of the hypotheticals presented, Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it. Throughout this painful and difficult trial, the family acknowledged that Theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state.
Two things jump out from this. First, that the family acknowledged that she was in PVS even as late as 2000, something they now claim, on the basis of one obviously dishonest doctor (Hammesfahr) who falsely claims to have helped people “far worse than Terri” and a second doctor (Cheshire) who admitted that he had no evidence to support him but merely had a “sense” of her “presence”, that she is not in PVS. Second, that the family simply doesn’t care what Terri wanted, that even if they agreed that she would have wanted to be allowed to die, they would keep her alive even if they had to subject her to amputation of all of her limbs. That’s just ghoulish, isn’t it? For all those people clamoring to “save Terri”, it’s looking more and more like she needs to be saved from her own family. As well meaning and understandable as they may be, they seem to think that Terri is a prop in their life to be kept around for their own enjoyment no matter what she would have wanted.