Fighting Over Terri Schiavo Continues

Michael Schiavo and his in-laws apparently are going to continue their fighting until the bitter end, bickering even over who will administer last rites to Terri Schiavo when she dies.

Schiavo Parents, Spouse Feud Over Her Fate (AP)

So bitter and vindictive is the family feud over whether Terri Schiavo lives or dies that her husband and parents couldn’t even agree on what priest should administer last rites or what should happen to her body after death.

Once embraced by them, Michael Schiavo hasn’t spoken to his in-laws, Bob and Mary Schindler, since 1993. The Schindlers have fought his effort to remove his brain-damaged wife’s feeding tube so she can die, painting him as an abusive monster who wants her out of the way so he can inherit her money and marry his longtime girlfriend. They’ve tried for more than a decade to have him removed as Terri’s guardian. Michael Schiavo says the Schindlers hold a grudge because he refused to share a $1 million medical malpractice award in his wife’s case, and says they lie when they insist their daughter is not in a persistent vegetative state as court-ordered doctors have determined .

Add years of vitriol from attorneys on each side and the hatred has reached the point where a relative began monitoring television last week so the Schindlers wouldn’t have to see their son-in-law on national news programs. Visiting schedules at Terri Schiavo’s hospice have been worked out so they don’t cross paths. “And these are the same two people that testified in the malpractice case … he was a wonderful son-in-law and you couldn’t ask for any better son-in-law,” said Michael Schiavo’s brother, Scott Schiavo. “But now he’s this, he’s that.”

Michael Schiavo has restricted who may visit his wife and when they can come, and a judge was asked recently to sort out such issues as whether the Schindlers could take photos of her before her death and what would happen to her body. “I think a lot of the reason Michael is doing this is because of vindictiveness and maybe anger toward my family for whatever reason,” said Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler. “It doesn’t make any sense to me why he’s doing this.”

Really? They’ve spent more than a decade doing everything they can to convince the public that he’s a monster who has been trying to kill their daughter and they can’t understand why he’s bitter?!

The Schindlers had asked Circuit Judge George Greer to allow Terri to be buried in Florida with her body intact, but the judge refused to intervene in Michael Schiavo’s plans to have her cremated and interred in their native Pennsylvania. In a court filing, the Schindlers insisted that Terri would not choose cremation. “To Mrs. Schiavo and her nuclear family, burial without cremation is a central tenet of the Roman Catholic faith,” the motion said. “They are wholly motivated by their religious belief that burial without cremation will comfort Mrs. Schiavo in death.”

These are some strange people.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alan Kellogg says:

    And Michael has no problems?

  2. bryan says:

    Just from a medical standpoint, it would be good to see an autopsy performed to see who’s been talking out their butts over this whole mess.

  3. Jeff Baker says:

    That’s a good point, bryan. I wonder why the parents think the final disposition of her mortal remains is any of their business. Clearly such matters lie solely with the spouse, as a matter of tradition and of law. I also wonder about the parents’ claim of her devotion to the Catholic faith. Parents and relatives are often unaware of their children’s actual feelings on religion.

  4. Just Me says:

    The cremation issue doesn’t bother me, but I think the moral think for Michael to do is have her buried in Florida so her parents can at least visit her grave without having to purchase plane tickets to do so.

    Michael has moved on with his life, he has a live in girlfriend who has had his children. I think where she is buried is one battle he should let the Schindler’s win, and it will show that he isn’t the vindictive asshole he appears to be, even without the allegations from the Schindler camp.

  5. John Burgess says:

    It really is a mystery why someone who has been vilified and portrayed as a monster on TV by another party is not willing to be particularly accommodating to that other party. But I guess human nature is a mystery too, at least to some people.

    The Catholic Church has gotten over its thing against cremation decades ago. It’s most unfortunate that the Schindlers and their attorneys seem to be in thrall to some backward branch of Catholicism manifest by the Francisan creeps that speak for them.

    An autopsy would make a lot of people happy, I’m sure. But since this death is not by inadvertent means, an accident, or in any way suspicious in its cause, the state has no interest in ordering an autopsy. The Schindler family might wish one to provide evidence that evil has been done to their daughter. They might even accept a medical examiner’s statement that their daughter truly had been in a PVS.

    But I’m willing to bet that once the door to an autopsy opened we’d be seeing more court cases about who gets to decide who does the autopsy, who gets the results, who gets to publicize the results, and who knows, maybe a new federal law determining how autopsies are to be conducted.

    They have no standing in the matter. The state has no standing in the matter. And the prurient interests of throngs has no bearing on the matter, either.

  6. reliapundit says:


    PINELLAS PARK, Fla., March 26 — Two visions of Terri Schiavo emerged Saturday: Her husband’s attorney, George Felos, said he had “never seen such a look of beauty and peace upon her.” Schiavo’s father, Robert Schindler, whose family has compared her complexion to that of a concentration camp victim, said “she is fighting like hell to stay alive.”

    Well, if right-to-die/euthanasia activist/advocate George Felos is correct, then why does he and his lying murderous lech of a client Michael Schiavo refuse to allow cameras in Terri’s room!? And why are they refusing an autopsy, and a burial, and why are they going to whisk Terri’s corpse away for a quick cremation?!

    I think this proves EVERYTHING!

    I believe the Schindlers and think that hubbywubby has been a bad player. That’s why I disbelieve him – in spite of the fact thsat the courts chose to belive him and his family over Terrei’s.

    The creamtyion is another example of how his guardianship of her has been in direct conflict with everything her family ever stood for and stands for today.

    BTW: the Schiavos testified that Terri told them she did not want to be on life support is she had a terminal illness – which ain’t what she had! SO: Greer GOOFED.

  7. Ed B says:

    The “husband” should have no more rights over her care than Elian Gonzalez’s relatives had over his care when the CLINTON administration decided it was in the best interest to return Elian to his natural father. Terri is even more of a “minor” than Elian was at the time, but politically motivated judges in FL won’t return her to her natural father who is willing to care for her. Instead, they agree with her “husband” – who has spent more time with his common law wife and bastard children than he did with Terri. He should have no standing, just like the relatives that had “legal” custody of Elian as his guardian had no standing.

    Oh yeah – and it’s not about the “money” – THEY say – which is pure BS. Her husband spent almost half of her malpractice judgment (which was supposed to provide for her sustenance) in legal fees trying to kill her. And the money – $50,000 posted to the FL courts will be returned to the “husband”, there may be life insurance that we haven’t heard about, and most importantly, there are the movie, tv and book rights (which is probalby why that sleazebag attorney has been working for “free” – lookng for the pot at the end of the rainbow. Yeah – and all at Easter. It’s time for this liberal anti-Christian nonsense to stop.

  8. Jeff Baker says:

    Flame on, ed.

    So far, M. Schiavo has refused to enter into book and movie deals, while the parents have already negotiated book, movie, and tv deals.

    “It’s time for this liberal anti-Christian nonsense to stop.”

    Thanks for repeating the Nazi party line. Luckily, our system of government doesn’t recognize your fantastic myth. The people of the nation are free to go on ignoring your occult and your holy days, and the laws will pay no respect to your story book.

  9. John Anderson says:

    Both the Schindler parents and Mr. Schiavo seem a bit strange. As do a lot of others involved.

    A single appeal of the guardianship case presided over by Judge Greer should have been enough to show the Schindlers that even if they had persuasive – but new – medical evidence it would be disregarded as irrelevant as to an appeal: not an intuitive point, but that is the way the law works. Yet they have spent years on more and more appeals. Surely they could have opened a case for malfeasance, charging that Michael was not using the trust fund for its actual purpose, whether stated or merely implied? Or some other course?

    As to Michael, maybe after a few years by 1993 he decided his wife was actually gone and should be allowed to exit life in the same manner as a terminally patient. But that does not explain things like ordering that her teeth not be brushed!

    Do not compare this case to the “same” method used on the terminally ill – they are almost always sedated and otherwise have pain alleviated, which will not be done here. Not that I think it is the proper way in any case.

    And for both sides, until the money hit the bank and Mr. Schiavo decided it was over, Michael not only lived with the Schindlers but brought “home” girlfriends to meet them.


    But there have been things applicable to the whole class of cases brought up that in some cases annoy me and in some anger me and even frighten me. For example the “Living Will.” A good idea, whether you want to hang on in hope of a medical breakthrough or something, or want to be allowed to die. But don’t put all your hopes there: while a court (if it goes that far) must consider it, the guardian carries far more weight. And the manner of “allowing” death, which would be illegal if practiced on a horse or dog.

  10. Just Me says:

    “Both the Schindler parents and Mr. Schiavo seem a bit strange. As do a lot of others involved.”

    I actually agree with this.

    The thing I have noticed about this whole thing, is that almost everyone who wants to pull the tube seems to think that Michael is the next best thing to a Saint, and almost everyone who wants the tube to remain think Michael is a monster.

    I think Michael is cruel in many of the things he has done, a sort of “I am the guy with the power and I am going to make you hurt” sort of way. I think the Schindlers were stupid for every getting Randall Terry involved, and I think their demonization of Michael hasn’t been fair either.

    As for book deals, I think those are probably in everyone’s future, including Michaels, but even more so his attorney’s.

  11. Margie says:

    The money that Schiavo won was put ito a trust fund to care for Terri. He also won 300,000 for his own loss. He did not get to spend her damage award, and insinuating he did proves you do not read. According to court documents, he did not have say over “her money”.