Terri Schiavo: Ten Years Later, The Debate Rages On

Terri Schiavo was declared dead on March 18, 2005. Although she suffered cardiac arrest in 1990, and was left in a persistent vegetative state, she remained on life support for 15 years. Schiavo has now been gone for ten years. However, her story remains a topic of hot debate.

Following the cardiac arrest, Terri Schiavo was in a coma for nearly three months. Although she woke from the coma, her doctors determined she suffered massive, and irreparable, brain damage. Despite several years of physical and speech therapy, Schiavo remained in a persistent vegetative state.

As the therapy was unsuccessful, and Schiavo’s condition was not likely to improve, her husband petitioned the state of Florida to remove his wife’s feeding tube. In his opinion, Terri would not have wanted to remain on life support.

Although the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida confirmed Michael’s decision, and ordered the feeding tube removed, Terri’s parents appealed the ruling. As reported by Time, Robert and Mary Schindler were simply unwilling to let go.

Between 1998 and 2005, Terri Schiavo’s case was appealed a total of 14 times. However, on March 18, 2005, a federal court upheld the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida’s original decision and the feeding tube was removed.

Terri Schiavo was declared dead 13 days later. Although it has been 10 years, the case remains a point of heated controversy.

Opponents have argued that nobody has the right to end human life. Although numerous doctors determined Schiavo suffered irreversible brain damage, her parents refused to give up hope. In their opinion, Terri was still conscious and very much alive. They equated removing the feeding tube with starving their daughter to death.

Others, including Michael Schiavo, argued that Terri was already gone. As the brain damage was massive, it was highly unlikely that Terri’s condition would improve. Therefore, Michael wanted to end his wife’s suffering.

Terri Schiavo’s case was revisited when a 13-year-old girl suffered massive, and irreparable, brain damage following a tonsillectomy. Jahi McMath was declared brain dead on December 12, 2013. However, her family disagrees.

As reported by CBS News, Jahi’s body is being kept alive with a ventilator and feeding tubes, as her parents firmly believe she will recover. Although her case is somewhat different from that of Terri Schiavo, it reignited the right-to-die debate.

The controversy continued in 2014, with the case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard. Unlike Terri and Jahi, Brittany did not suffer brain damage. However, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

As her prognosis was grim, Brittany made the decision to end her own life. As reported by CNN, she eventually moved to the state of Oregon, which allows residents the option of assisted suicide.

Although she faced intense criticism, Brittany Maynard insisted that she deserved to die with dignity. Using a prescribed cocktail of drugs, she ended her life on November 1.

Terri Schiavo and Brittany Maynard have passed. However, Jahi McMath is still being kept on life support. Their stories are each unique, but all three cases remains a point of heated controversy.

[Image via Matt May/Getty Images]