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Attorney on a mission to tell ‘Untold Story of Terri Schiavo’

SEMINOLE, Fla. (BP)–Attorney David Gibbs III, nearly a year after the dehydration death of Terri Schiavo, is telling audiences who will listen about the so-called “right-to-die” case that shook a nation and caused many to look at the way the disabled are treated in America.

Coming into the case seven months before a judge’s order, issued in 2000, was finally carried out last year, Gibbs talks about the “leap of faith” he took in September 2004 when Bob and Mary Schindler asked him to become the lead attorney.

Bob Schindler’s request to Gibbs: “Do everything you can to save Terri’s life or tell the story of what happened to Terri if she dies.”

Gibbs, speaking at a Reclaiming America Conference in Fort Lauderdale, said he believes too many people don’t know the real story about what happened in the final days and hours of Terri’s life.

Afraid the pro-euthanasia movement has confused treatment for people in the end stages of life with active euthanasia, such as dehydrating Terri to death, Gibbs described what it was like to watch Mary Schindler face her daughter’s impending death. He also dispels the notion of government intrusion into a family’s private matters by explaining how Michael Schiavo involved the courts when he asked a circuit judge to order Terri’s feeding tube be removed, rather than just removing it himself and facing any consequences of that action.

In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, Gibbs said most legal cases deal with money or criminal action, not death.

“Now you have an innocent woman, a woman that everybody agrees has done nothing wrong,” Gibbs said. “That’s pressure that’s hard to carry. We had to turn it over to the Lord.”

In speaking of the Schindler family, Gibbs said despite not being “blood related,” he felt “intertwined with them,” providing pastoral advice as a counselor and friend.

With the news media and the world watching, Gibbs said he was aware of weighing every comment and asking himself, “Is this advancing saving Terri’s life?”

Crediting God with providing a certain measure of peace, especially in the final days of Terri’s life, Gibbs said he believes things worked together providentially to let the world know that euthanasia is a force to be reckoned with.

“I think it was really the grace of God that held the whole team together, the legal team and the family to stand as strong as we could for Terri’s life and against the horrible thing that she was undergoing,” Gibbs said. And even those who didn’t agree with the stand the Schindlers took would have to agree that “Bob and Mary stood nobly and they did it in a way that the cause of Christ was not hurt.”

In Gibbs’ quest to spread the truth regarding the life and death of Terri Schiavo, he has authored “Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us,” slated for a June release by Bethany House Publishers.

In the first chapter of his book, Gibbs describes an “unmatched access to the truth of Terri’s condition” which he said has rendered it “impossible” to remain silent.

“As one of the few eyewitnesses,” Gibbs writes, “I have an obligation to you and to our country. I must confront the gross misrepresentations and outright fabrications which some are using to justify future abuses against thousands of those whose ‘quality of life’ has been called into question.”

Referencing what he calls the “the wall-to-wall media coverage during Terri’s final days,” Gibbs writes that “a tremendous amount of confusion still lingers in the minds of most Americans as to what really happened.”

Gibbs writes that “the reason our country is wrestling with these questions is because, at some deeper level, we instinctively realize something profoundly wrong has happened. The Terri Schiavo case is to our generation what Roe v. Wade was to our parents’ generation.

“Life itself was on trial.”
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, on the Web at www.floridabaptistwitness.com.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan