February 24, 2024

Schiavo feud smoulders on

Even Terri Schiavo’s burial plot is marked by controversy. Her ashes have been buried in a Florida cemetery under a grave marker designed by her husband Michael which says that she “departed this earth” on February 25, 1990, the day she collapsed. March 31, the day of her death, is described as the day she was “at peace”. At the foot of the plaque are Michael’s words “I kept my promise”.

Disability activists have disputed the findings of Terri’s autopsy, which found that her brain had shrunk to half its normal size and that she was probably blind and could not have been fed by mouth. The group Not Dead Yet claims that she could have had some cognitive ability despite her massive brain damage. “It’s always seemed to us that PVS [permanent vegetative state] isn’t really a diagnosis; it’s a value judgement masquerading as a diagnosis,” says Stephen Drake, a Not Dead Yet research analyst. “When it comes to the hard science, no qualified pathologist went on the record saying she couldn’t think or couldn’t experience her own death through dehydration.”