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Saturday, March 26, 2005

SHREDDING SOME MYTHS about Terri Schiavo

Here we are again.

Running discussions in our comments about Terri, Michael, the Guardian Ad Litem reports and more, simply must be reposted here, for everyone’s enlightenment.

We’ve repeated what we know: that there are allegations, and in fact, evidence and reports to police by healthcare personnel that were never investigated by police or DAs. Bones broken, CT scans, bone scans, head/skull injuries after being in hospital: evidence at least in part pointing to things occurring only when she was with Michael.

Others cited Guardian Ad Litem reports by Dr. Jay Wolfson in 2003, saying that “The allegations of abuse and self-interest against Mr. Schiavo have been heard and adjudicated for almost a decade. See Dr. Wolfson's Ad Litem report for a concise history of the case, including abuse allegations...See… page 11 and page 34 footnote.”

However, spousal abuse really has not been ruled out in this case, that no one can say with certainly that that's not the case here. Let me explain:

Page 11 of that GAL report refers to a prior GAL’s report of March 1, 1994, which this PDF file cited does not include. We have nothing from this citation that says whether or not the GAL, in either 1994 or in 2003, reviewed such evidence as the bone scan of her condition when she was first admitted to hospital care following her collapse, or anything for that matter. Do a search in that PDF file on the word “bone.” You won’t find any reference.

Page 34 has no footnote, that I can see. None of the pages do, it seems. Perhaps the commenter meant to reference a different document.

And reviewing page 23 of that report, it says, “If persons unable to speak for themselves have decisions made on their behalf by guardians or family members, the potential for abuse, barring clear protections, could lead to a ‘slippery slope’ of actions to terminated the lives of disabled and incompetent persons. And it is not difficult to imagine bad decisions being made in order to make life easier for a family or to avoid spending funds remaining in the estate on the maintenance of a person.”

Exactly what we fear has happened. If this GAL citation says this, as of 2003, that means it hasn’t been eliminated as a possibility!

This statement also shows that Terri received physical and speech therapy for only “more than three years,” the first three out of the total 15.

As for others following what the media emphasizes, the GAL statement also says, “While no formal proof emerged, the medical records note that the combination of aggressive weight loss, diet control and excessive hydration raised questions about Theresa suffering from Bulimia, an eating disorder, more common among women than men, in which purging through vomiting, laxatives and other methods of diet control becomes obsessive.”

“While no formal proof emerged” and “raised questions” has become, in the pens and printers of the mass media—in this case quoted from The Star & Independent Online newspaper by another commenter here, and I quote verbatim: “She brought her problem on herself because ‘According to Dr Jay Wolfson, the heart seizure was brought on by “a dramatically reduced potassium level”, the probable result of an “aggressive weight-loss programme”. Doctors say Schiavo may have suffered from the eating disorder bulimia, in which sufferers gorge themselves on food and then induce vomiting, in order to keep their weight down.’”

No one can tell me that there’s no liberal media bias. All who believe the above statement is true have accepted what the MSM feeds us and have condemned Terri to death by her husband’s hand “with no formal proof.”

By comparison, Victor Gambone, MD, signed the following statement: “Based on the patient’s diagnosis and current condition, I expect this patient has a limited life expectancy of six (6) months or less, if disease continues to take its(sic) usual course, and hereby certify this patient as eligible for Hospice care.” Which meant she was being sent to die in Hospice. That's the only reason someone ever goes to Hospices.

Other medical doctors have refuted this assessment of Terri’s condition, and so this appears at least possibly to be a fraudulent medical order. If medical orders can be flawed, I put forth that GAL statements can also be.

A GAL IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE INFORMATION HE/SHE IS GIVEN. If even some of what the GAL has is hearsay and uninvestigated reports, then of course, the GAL will advise wrongly.

I know how GALs work: the court appointed one for my teen son almost two years ago in a child neglect case against his father. The court gave me a half-day to find a lawyer I’d prefer for my son’s representation. Being in court pro se myself (i.e., without my own lawyer), I had no way to do this quickly. Michael Schiavo, on the other hand, had the great George Felos to help him get one suitable for the purposes Michael had in mind.

Further, had the Department of Children and Families not substantiated child neglect against my son’s father, I likely would have seen the same lack of protection for my son from the courts. Even as it was, with a bona fide neglect substantiation in hand, as soon as DCF learned I’d obtained a restraining order, DCF dropped pursuit of the case, dropping the forcing of certain other proofs of abuse they were about to force my ex to undergo! Their reasoning? I quote: “You were taking care of the matter yourself, protecting your son by getting the R.O.”

A completely true story. And now I’ve had to fight in court ever since, paying thousands out of my own pocket, because the DCF refused to make their recommendations stick.

What DCF completely ignored is that the R.O. was for only 6 months and I’d have to go to court to get it extended (not an easy thing to do since he now was acting on his “best behavior” as advised by his attorney), or go to court for an extended series of appearances (read, "mucho denero" cost) to remove his visitation rights, an iffy proposition at best.

DCF can only do so much. Despite the above “sacred” but flawed GAL statement, it hasn’t been ruled out that DCF Florida did not do its job adequately, and therefore, it should be further and completely investigated.

Another interesting bit of information, if this bio is correct: Dr. Jay Wolfson, the court appointed GAL who wrote that report in 2003, only became a lawyer 10 years before, in 1993 (from the "prestigious" STETSON UNIVERSITY?), and isn't even an M.D.

He's also a "Dr. P.H. [Doctor of Public Health], Health Services Organizations," and a "M.P.H.,[Master of Public Health] Community Health Administration."

A Dr. PH "prepares students for leadership positions in health services organizations. In contrast to the Ph.D., the orientation is professional rather than academic and comprehensive rather than specialized," according to UCLA.

And an MPH can start out as an MD, but can also just be an administrator, which is apparently what Wolfson has been. He doesn't even have medical degrees, but a BA and MA in History.

Others stated, “Michael is insisting on cremation. Will he allow a complete autopsy to be done? If not... why not? Michael, if you'd like to put an end to the speculation and rumor once and for all, let her have an autopsy if and when she dies. Let's find out the nature of those alleged bone fractures.”

Another replied, "How will autopsy inspection of bone fractures reveal how they were sustained, or identify a person who may have inflicted them?"

Not just autopsies, but the years-ago medical tests as well: Time/date/date range of injuries being inflicted, method (to determine if it was self-inflicted or not, or resulting from simple falls)...these things can and are determined all the time...It may not identify the person, then again, it may. If it's determined that a head injury was not from a true accident, not self-inflicted and occurred only when Michael was the only one with her, or a nurse or anyone, for that matter, well, what else is there to conclude?

If Michael has nothing to be afraid of or to hide, he should allow the autopsy, should Terri die.

Another argument centered on the monies awarded. The commenter claimed: “$300k was awarded to Mr. Schiavo for loss of consortium, $750k awarded to Ms. Schiavo and placed in a trust fund which was managed by SouthTrust Bank. ‘Mr. Schiavo had no control over its use.’ (Guardian Ad Litem report, page 9)”.

This is quite different than the true numbers. From the St. Petersburg Times, June 3, 2001:
“A Pinellas jury awarded about $1.4-million to Mrs. Schiavo and $630,000 to her husband in 1992 after her gynecologist failed to ask about her medical history while treating her. She also received a $250,000 settlement in a case filed on her behalf against another doctor. Felos said that after attorneys' fees and other expenses, Mrs. Schiavo was left with about $700,000 and her husband with about $300,000. In April 1993, Mrs. Schiavo's money was valued at $776,254, court records show. By April 1998, it was only down to $713,825.” The article goes on to say how much the money could have earned if invested properly, as well: “$70,000 or more a year in the mid and late 1990s, when the stock market was booming…Those kinds of returns could have paid for Mrs. Schiavo's expenses.”
So she/they started with $2.28 Million, between the two of them. That means that as of 2001, about $1.28 Million had been spent. Only 3 years of therapy was given to Terri, from 1990 to 1993, and from 1993 to 2001, nothing major was spent to rehabilitate her. Where did all that money go, if Michael really had “no control over” it?

Someone also made the point that if he’d divorced her years ago, he wouldn’t have had to spend all the money he’s allegedly spent on her care. However, if he had divorced her years ago, he simply wouldn't have gotten all the money. In fact, it's doubtful he would've gotten much at all, since it was all malpractice award money to go to Terri's care and rehab. The court would've given most of it to her in the divorce. The argument for his financial motivation is not moot at all.

Another comment indicated the report saying the Schindlers "actively encouraged" Mr. Schiavo to date other women, even to bring them home to meet the Schindlers. My question is, did the Schindlers tell the GAL that, or was it Michael’s statement? The report doesn’t say. Most good GALs report if both sides said the same thing. And dating other women is quite different than having sex, living and having children with another woman.

Violating his marriage vows by sleeping, living with another woman and having two of her kids, while telling the world he still loved Terri, is abuse of his guardianship of Terri. He stopped being her husband and guardian long ago. Just because legally he still is, does not make it morally right.

Love is as love does. "He does not love who does not show love," Shakespeare wrote. Michael stopped showing love for Terri at about the same moment he got his hands on the approximately 2 million dollars.

It was suggested that perhaps there's a way to link this to basic rights: when a spouse violates the other's right to life and/or health, that's when their spousal rights do not take precedence. It would be the spouse who reneged on their marital vows (which we assume to include valuing the other's life and health) who loses their marital right in this instance, not the government who takes it away. Just a thought. There's a long way to go to make it so.

If the attempt to overturn his decision is a violation of the law, then those who believe that seem to believe also that his violation of his marriage vows (adultery is illegal in Florida, I'm told) and of his guardianship responsibilities should be allowed.

I disagree. With every fiber of my being.

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