PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (BP)–Stopping for a brief interview with the Florida Baptist Witness at the hospice where Terri Schiavo now resides, family attorney David Gibbs III March 18 called on believers to pray and to show kindness to the family.
He also encouraged supporters gathering outside the hospice to act peacefully and do things “in the right way and in the right spirit.” Gibbs represents Schiavo’s parents, who for years have been in a legal battle to keep their daughter alive.
“The Schindlers won’t have any part of anything that isn’t prayerful, respectful and appropriate,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs commented on the treatment of Schiavo’s parents and family just prior to the removal of her feeding tube, which was pulled March 18. All were asked to leave the hospice and only learned through the gathered media that the starvation had begun.
“I think there would have been a kinder, more sensitive way to handle it with the family,” Gibbs said.
About the prospect that Schiavo is facing death if there is no intervention on her behalf, Gibbs said the situation has strengthened his reliance on God and he found a little comfort in seeing that she appeared to be resting quietly upright in an easy chair in the hospice room. If her feeding tube is not reinserted she will die of starvation and dehydration within a week or so.
“We know that God loves Terri more than we do, but at the same time we are saddened to think that Terri [faces] that kind of death,” Gibbs said.
The overall impact of the case has caused Gibbs — who is an evangelical Christian and a member of an independent Baptist church — serious reflection.
“It makes me hurt for America,” Gibbs said. “I sit here and think, when I went to law school, I never thought we would be doing a case like this. I thought our law was designed to protect life. From the time of The Ten Commandments that say ‘thou shalt not kill,’ up until today, we were a nation that was to show honor and to clearly look out for those that are weaker.
“What we have today is a young lady [who cannot] talk for herself and right now we have a lot of people in courts that are saying, ‘You know what? Your life doesn’t matter,'” added Gibbs.
The crisis has affected the family — but ultimately they trust God, he said.
“The family has turned this over to God,” Gibbs said. “They are counting on America, but they are also accepting the sovereignty of God in this situation and knowing that God loves Terri more than they do.”
Still, the thought that Terri might die as a result of starvation causes Gibbs to tear up.
“It’s almost like God is saying, ‘Here America, I’ll give you a chance to do the right thing,’ and I fear that if we don’t start protecting and valuing life, if we don’t look out for the disabled, the Bible talks about the widows and the orphans, and those that we are called to defend; there’s a blessing when we show kindness to those who are the least of these.
“What we are doing right now is kind of saying, ‘Look, if I don’t have what I want the way I want it, we’ll just get rid of these kind of people.’ I think that could well bring a judgment from God himself.”
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.FloridaBaptistWitness.com.