Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Terri Schiavo documentary released as DVD

From the Florida Baptist Witness:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —A newly released documentary “The Terri Schiavo Story,” hosted by author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, features indepth interviews with participants on both sides of the issue of the 41-year-old disabled woman who died nearly four years ago in Florida.

In 1990, Terri Schindler Schiavo, 26, collapsed of unknown causes and was subsequently diagnosed with hypoxic encephalopathy—a neurological injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. She remained in a severely compromised neurological state and was provided a feeding tube to ensure the safe delivery of nourishment and hydration. On March 31, 2005, Terri Schindler Schiavo died of marked dehydration following more than 13 days without nutrition or hydration under the order of Circuit Court Judge, George W. Greer of the Pinellas-Pasco’s Sixth Judicial Court.

Originally produced as an episode for the Joni & Friends television series, Franklin Springs Family Media, in a news release, said the company believed the story was compelling enough to produce as a stand-alone project. In 2008 “The Terri Schiavo Story” won the Jubliee Award for Best Documentary at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and David Gibbs, head of the Florida-based Christian Law Association were both interviewed for the documentary.

Joni Eareckson Tada, herself disabled after a diving accident which left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair and unable to use her hands, said what happened to Terri continues to affect disabled citizens.

“The story remains relevant because there are countless people like Terri Schiavo whose lives are in grave danger because of unclear custody and guardianship laws,” Tada said. “Plus, more states (under futile care policy directives) are quietly removing the feeding tubes from brain-injured people when families abandon their responsibilities. Feeding tubes are providing basic care, not medical treatment.”

Tada was on the front lines with Terri’s family in 2005, helping lead the protests that eventually landed in the halls of the U.S. Congress.

“I hope that people understand that Terri Schiavo’s story is really our story,” Tada said in the release. “We have a special obligation to protect the weak and vulnerable in our society. We have a responsibility to uphold their human dignity—because we are of equal dignity, we are not at each other’s disposal. The weak and the vulnerable need their rights safeguarded and protected... we must not allow them to become eroded. For when we do, we are jeopardizing the rights of us all.”

Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, was interviewed at length in the documentary and is now involved in helping families in similar circumstances through The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. Schindler believes the truth about his sister’s death has been distorted and hidden—until now.

“Our hope is that people will learn the truth about what happened to Terri and realize the atrocity that it was and that anyone who claims that her death was ‘peaceful’ and ‘painless’ is lying,” Schindler said. “It is because of the truly inhumane nature of death by dehydration that when people are killed this way it is always done behind closed doors in the strictest secrecy. I wholeheartedly believe that if the public had been allowed to witness Terri’s suffering first hand, the outcry would have deafened Florida and the world.”

Land, who as president of the ERLC is a champion of pro-life issues and also serves as the vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said in the documentary he believes people like Schiavo deserve protection.

“As human beings we don’t have the right to take on god-like qualities and start deciding for others when the quality of their life has diminished to the point that they no longer deserve protections that we give to more healthy, more productive people,” Land said.

Gibbs, who served as legal counsel for Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are also interviewed in the documentary, said Schiavo should have been given a chance to live.

”Whether she (Terri) would ever get better or not, in the condition that she was in, she was as alive as any person watching this show,” Gibbs said.