Schiavo speaks out on end-of-life issues


Micheal Schiavo, right, listens to a question as he appears at a bioethics symposium at the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:50 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA - Still dogged by protesters, Michael Schiavo told a bioethics gathering Sunday that outsiders have no right to intervene in medical decisions that divide even ethicists, neurologists and Catholic church officials.

Schiavo's first wife, Terri, died last year after a bitter court fight - played out on the national stage - between Schiavo and his in-laws over her feeding tube.

As Congress and the White House weighed in, a Florida judge ultimately allowed the removal of the tube, 15 years after Terri Schiavo collapsed and fell into what court-ordered doctors called a permanent vegetative state. She died 13 days after the tube was removed.

"In retrospect, I guess I should have spoken out in the very beginning, but I had no idea it was going to get so big and that the other side was going to run away with it," said Schiavo, referring to conservative religious and political groups that supported his in-laws.

Schiavo was joined at a University of Pennsylvania bioethics symposium Sunday by the mother of Karen Ann Quinlan, the New Jersey woman whose case inspired the right-to-die movement in 1975.

"Every day, the pro-life blogs continue to bash me, as they are outside today," Schiavo said as a small group of demonstrators gathered on campus.

Schiavo has started a political action group called TerriPAC to raise money for political candidates who favor keeping politics out of individual medical decisions. He said he also hopes to raise money to help prevent eating disorders such as bulimia, which he said led to his wife's collapse.

Julia Duane Quinlan, like Schiavo, took issue with the notion that any one law could resolve each difficult medical decision.

"Every situation is different. Every family is different," she said.

She and her late husband, who lived in Morristown, N.J., sued hospital officials for the right to remove what they considered "extraordinary means" keeping their comatose daughter alive.

Karen Ann Quinlan, 21, had collapsed after mixing Valium with alcohol. She lived for nine years after her respirator was removed.

Today, all 50 states allow people to sign living wills or medical directives.

"My daughter's case was not about the right to die. It was about the inappropriate use of technology," Quinlan said.

Judge George W. Greer, the Florida judge who allowed Schiavo to have the feeding tube removed, is among those scheduled to take part during the symposium's second and final day on Monday.

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