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Schiavo’s mom requests prayer; attorney: it’s in ‘God’s hands’

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (BP)–“Absolutely” relying on prayer while their daughter’s life is apparently in the hands of lawmakers and judges, Mary Schindler told the Florida Baptist Witness March 22 she believes prayer can help.

“We’re still asking for prayer,” Schindler said. “Right now it’s the only thing I have.”

Secluded in the family home throughout the morning, the Schindler family was resting and waiting for answers. They plan to visit their daughter at the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park sometime later today, after other relatives have had a chance to see Terri.

The fate of the 41-year-old disabled woman looked grim on the fifth day she was denied food and water—on the order of Florida Judge George W. Greer, who directed her feeding tube be unhooked Mar. 18.

But despite a seemingly endless process of filing appeals and trying to provide judges with information relative to a very complicated case, David Gibbs III, the attorney for the Schindler family, told the Witness the case is “completely in God’s hands.”

“We’ve watched God do many miracles to this point,” Gibbs said. “I am putting my complete faith and trust in Him and I believe He’s going to save Terri.

“I just hope He does it quickly.”

Regarding Terri’s condition, Gibbs reported she appears to be “holding, but not good” with darkened eye sockets and face.

Mike Tammaro, Mary Schindler’s brother from Corning, N.Y., told the Witness that his sister and her husband, Robert “Bob” Schindler Sr., have held up admirably, given the circumstances of the round-the-clock watch as Terri’s life hangs in the balance.

“It’s hard because it’s a roller coaster ride,” Tammaro said. “You feel like things are going wonderful and then all of a sudden, things aren’t that great. You have to draw on the strength of the Lord.”

Acting on Greer’s orders, healthcare workers not only stopped delivering nutrition and hydration to Terri though a tube March 18, they also removed a balloon type device in her abdomen to which they hooked the tube twice a day for her to receive sustenance.

Additionally, Greer also ruled recently that Terri could not be fed any type of foods or receive water orally, although a neurologist familiar with the case told the Witness Terri could swallow on her own, if given the opportunity. Typically it takes 7-15 days for an individual in a similar situation to starve to death, doctors report.

Nearly a decade ago Terri’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, petitioned the court to halt the dispensing of nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube to his wife.

In 1990 Terri suffered brain damage after her heart stopped. Her supporters and parents have said she could improve were she provided rehabilitation services. Michael Schiavo has refused to provide those services since about 1993, they say.

Although Michael Schiavo says his wife would want to die, no written request from Terri exists and only he and his close relatives have testified saying she would not wish to live. Terri’s parents and supporters have cited a conflict of interest to his continued guardianship. Michael has lived with his girlfriend, with whom he has fathered two children, for 10 years.

Tammaro, who has been at Mary Schindler’s side for the past week, told the Witness his faith is strengthened by knowing he can rely on God even when “the world” hands out defeat.

“[This situation] does nothing but increase my faith,” Tammaro said. “My wife and I have always agreed to let go and let God and so we just pray about things and then release them.”

But the thought that God is in control, Tammaro knows, does not entirely insulate his sister and brother-in-law from the pain of watching their daughter suffer.

“When you’re the father and the mother — I doubt [anything can minimize their pain],” Tammaro said. “I try to put myself in their place. I have two daughters for myself and I can’t imagine going through it. It’s tough enough when it’s your niece. I can’t imagine if it was my daughter.”

Crediting Terri’s parents for their long-standing commitment to their daughter, Tammaro said they are doing a “tremendous job” under the circumstances.

“I believe they really believe the Lord is involved in this,” Tamarro continued. “They’ve seen so many examples of things that have happened that can only be attributed to the Lord’s work. And we are counting on another miracle here, of course.”

And in the end, Tammaro said, Terri’s experience will have served a greater purpose, even if she does not make it.

“I don’t think it will ever be in vain,” Tammaro explained. “There’s going to be an awful lot of good coming from this somehow. I don’t know how and maybe I won’t while I’m walking this earth. But I guarantee you there’s going to be some good coming from this.”
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of Florida Baptist Witness, which has a special collection of Schiavo stories online at http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/schiavo.fbw

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  • Joni B. Hannigan