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The Intentional Death of Terri Schiavo

Bradley Mattes   |   November 13, 2000

The intentional death of Terri Schiavo by dehydration and starvation was horribly cruel. John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute provides a brief description of what Terri went through during the 13 long days it took her to die:

“The reality is that, over a period of several weeks, she will be slowly starved to death. The first effects of starvation and dehydration when the feeding tube is removed include the mouth drying out and the tongue becoming swollen and cracked. When a person is slowly killed in this way, the lips become parched and cracked, and a thick coating may begin to cake the mouth and lips. The eyes will sink back into the skull, while the cheeks will hollow. The lining of the nose will begin to crack, too, possibly causing nosebleeds. The skin will turn dry and scaly and hang loose on the bones. Urine decreases, becoming highly concentrated, and eventually stops completely. Then, the stomach lining dries out, causing vomiting and dry heaves. Brain cells dry out, too, causing convulsions. The respiratory tract dries out and thick secretions develop, which may plug the lungs and airways. Eventually, after the body suffers all these effects, all the major organs fail, including the lungs, heart and brain.”

In the wake of the Terri Schiavo situation, many in the media promoted a “Living Will.” Unfortunately, living wills add to the tragedy; they don’t prevent it. They are vague directives that can’t begin to cover the many possible medical events you may encounter in the future. Many assume to withhold food and water, making you vulnerable to the same protracted, painful death experienced by Terri.

The best way to protect yourself and those you love is with a durable Power of Attorney. It allows you to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so yourself. The document we recommend is written from a pro-life point-of-view. Learn more about durable Power of Attorney and get your free copy.

Brad Mattes with Terri Schiavo Family
Life Issues Institute Executive Director Bradley Mattes (4th from left) with the family of Terri Schiavo (left to right): Bobby Schindler, Mary Schindler, Robert Shindler and Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo.

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