Today, the fifth anniversary of the death of Terry Schiavo, Priests for Life will celebrate an honorary Mass and a day of prayer and advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable.
“On March 31, five years ago, Terri Schiavo died a court mandated and government enforced death,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, on Wednesday. “I saw for myself, as I held her hand and prayed at her bedside, that this death was not ‘peaceful’ and ‘beautiful’ as euthanasia advocates want us to think.”
“Moreover,” he added, “as health care is placed more and more in the hands of the government, we have to be more vigilant than ever to protect the Terris of today and tomorrow.”
Schiavo, a victim of severe brain damage, died in 2005 when she was barred from receiving nutrition and hydration in by a Florida court order after a long legal fight between her husband and her family.
Two years ago Priests for Life and Terri’s Foundation established Terri’s Day, formally known as the “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters.”
The day is intended to encourage prayer, education and advocacy about discrimination against the disabled and about those in situations similar to Terri Schiavo’s last days.
Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, recently cited a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that some people diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) are in fact responsive.
"What is worse is that persons with cognitive disabilities thought to be in this 'PVS' condition, like Terri, are routinely being denied food and hydration – their most basic rights,” Schindler commented in a Feb. 23 press release. He said the new findings underscore the importance of why the “dangerous and often mistaken” PVS diagnosis should not be used as “a standard to kill our most vulnerable.”