FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 16, 2015 / — Dr. Ben Carson owes pro-life and medically vulnerable Americans an apology. Similarly, any pro-lifer supporting his campaign should take another look at the candidate’s values.
Speaking to reporters at a Florida Republican Party conference on Friday, November 13, Dr. Carson marginalized Terri Schiavo and other struggling and medically vulnerable patients.
Terri Schiavo, who died on March 31, 2005 from starvation and dehydration, was brain injured but otherwise healthy woman who was not reliant on life support. Michael Schiavo, her estranged husband and guardian, had led a national court case to remove her feeding tube—a means of nourishment which millions of patients rely on every day—in order to end her life almost a decade after warehousing her in a nursing home and suspending rehabilitative care.
When asked by a reporter whether he believed Terri Schiavo deserved Congress’s attempt to halt her court-ordered 13-day death by starvation and dehydration, Dr. Carson blithely responded, “I don’t think it needed to get to that level. I think it was much ado about nothing.”
Dr. Carson continued: “We face those kinds of issues all the time, and while I don’t believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out,” explaining that “your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network condemns Dr. Ben Carson for these callous remarks that serve to marginalize an already underserved community of patients. Whether Dr. Carson understands that Terri Schiavo was not a terminal patient is unclear, but it is certainly clear that Dr. Carson’s advice to doctors “not to treat” brain injured patients is precisely the form of euthanasia that led to the suspension of Schiavo’s rehabilitation and ultimately her court-ordered death.
Bobby Schindler, president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network and brother of Terri Schiavo, issued these remarks:
“Every pro-life advocate knows how hard it is to argue for the Constitutional right-to-life from natural birth to natural death. Terri was denied a natural death from men who shared Dr. Carson’s hopeless views on the value of a life in need of love and extensive rehabilitation.”
“As both a Christian and a world renowned neurological surgeon,” Schindler continued, “Dr. Carson owes every pro-life advocate an apology. At best, he spoke from a perspective of personal prejudice and ignorance. At worst, he truly shares the perspective of so many euthanasia activists. Terri was denied the protections Congress attempted to afford her, which were the same due process rights that every death row prisoner in this country possesses. But for the brain injured, which include everyone from professional athletes to everyday Americans, their cases are often hopeless because of the attitudes Dr. Carson professes.
“If we get a President Carson, conservatives won’t need to fear Obamacare’s so-called death panels,” continued Schindler, “because Dr. Carson would himself represent a one-man death panel, content to ration care and decide who deserves a chance at life based on a warped sense of the ethics of medicine and humane law.”
According to Tom Shakely, executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network: “Traumatically brain injured patients need intensive rehabilitative care, period. Every day, shocked Americans learn they will have to fight their own doctors and medical providers just to afford their loved ones a shot at recovery in the face of a system increasingly driven by cost-minded MBAs rather than caring MDs. For Dr. Carson to align himself with the bureaucrats is devastating.”
“This isn’t about politics, concluded Shakely. “Dr. Carson’s remarks raise serious questions about the moral character of his allegedly pro-life candidacy. Pro-lifers can’t afford any more part time believers.”
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was established by the family members of Terri Schiavo to defend the rights of the medically vulnerable. These rights include the protection from the removal of food and water (via a feeding tube) which has been redefined as medical treatment instead of basic and ordinary care. The Life & Hope Network has communicated with and supported more than 1,000 families, and has been involved in hundreds of cases since Terri’s Death. To learn more about the work of the Life & Hope Network, please visit lifeandhope.com.
Tom Shakely, Executive Director — firstname.lastname@example.org
855-300-4674, Extension 3
April 5, 2005 by Fredi D’Alessio
I will never forget my pilgrimage to ‘calvary’ in Pinellas Park, Florida on behalf of my sister Terri and her family. I was so very blessed to have been able to be there to support them and to advocate for Terri’s right to life. I cherish them and the people who stood in solidarity with them, mostly having come from long distances. Of the many fine people I was privileged to meet, I remember with special fondness a young family of eight from Ohio who put aside every other concern and without much planning hurriedly loaded their van with bare essentials and began the long drive to Pinellas Park.
Along with harboring warm feelings for the Schindler family and their supporters, my heart grieves Terri’s cold-blooded murder. Being present at the scene of that crime – in the midst of or close by the victims, the intervenors, the perpetrators, the politicians, the police, and the news media – subjected my whole being to a rivalry of emotions and a variety of experiences and encounters. But rather than reflect on what being there was like, I have chosen to reflect on what being there was about.
So many, if not most, of those who have spoken or written about Terri’s plight have missed the point. It matters not in the least what Terri’s physical condition was. No justification could be made for taking her life no matter who the ‘experts’ are or how many words they spout.
Of my twelve days and nights in Florida, most were passed in prayer outside the hospice in Pinellas Park. A few days were spent in support of Terri in Tallahassee at Florida’s House and Senate committee hearings, and lobbying at Senator and Governor offices. I also participated in two candlelight prayer vigils outside the Governor’s Mansion during which we pleaded with the Governor via an intercom at the gate to do everything possible to save Terri.
I do not agree with those who have proposed that our role, as non-Floridians, was to support Terri and all those concerned for her well being with our prayers. Yes, of course we should have supported them with prayers, but not merely with prayers of petition. God wants to communicate with us when we pray. The petition He wants most from us is that we may obtain the graces and virtues that are necessary to not only know his will, but also to actively abide by it. He wants us to be his instruments of love, mercy, justice and peace.
Terri is sister to each and every person on earth. God entrusts each and every human life, not only to parents, but also to each and every one of us. To be an authentic disciple of Christ Jesus each of us must accept that responsibility.
The universal Church must be united in the acceptance of that responsibility. Neither borders nor domains, even if they exist within Her own structure (as in dioceses, provinces and regions), can excuse Her (us) from actively reaching out – not merely speaking out. This is particularly so when the ‘local Church’ has been negligent in Her duties and discipleship (as it was in Terri’s case). Supporting those who are in error is not unifying; it is destructive.
When bishops, priests, deacons and laity neglect to intervene on behalf of those at risk and fail to boldly, emphatically and persistently preach the Gospel of Life and correct and admonish those in error about grave issues such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryo production and destruction for any reason, or any other crime against humanity, the stage is set for all of these tragedies to occur. We have been stagehands for decades now, having embraced a disregard for human life and even become desensitized to millions of murders of unborn babies. One of the ways in which that disregard and insensitivity is demonstrated daily is by our lack of intervention at the numerous baby-killing centers throughout our country where thousands of babies are murdered every day. Every bishop and pastor in the nation should have been preaching about Terri’s right to life from the pulpit and imploring us to become actively involved with her family in their fight for her life.
Pope John Paul II could not have made that point any clearer in his encyclical (Evangelium Vitae) to bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, and lay faithful, which begins with: “The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture.” The introduction closes with: “To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”
In ‘A Note On Liturgical Norms for Homilies’ Fr. Frank Pavone points out: “Liturgy is, ultimately, a life-giving encounter with God. There can be no more appropriate setting in which to proclaim and defend the gift of life. The liturgical laws of the Church certainly leave the door wide open for such a proclamation and defense!”
Those who stood as advocates for life at ‘calvary’ in Pinellas Park, Florida did so with the “dauntless fidelity” called for by the Holy Father. They came with hope that Terri’s life would be saved and with love to help the Shindler family carry their cross.
I don’t think there is a better way to close this reflection than with the following excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s farewell message given during the official departure ceremony for him at the Detroit Airport on 19 September 1987:
“America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones. The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! … Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.”
“Terri and her family”
SERIOUS HEALTH CARE AND END OF LIFE DECISIONS
“Pope John Paul II’s farewell message given at the Detroit Airport on 19 September 1987”