A national memorial to the life and legacy of Terri Schindler Schiavo was unveiled Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington. The magnificent sculpture, entitled “Compassion”, commissioned by Stephen G. Peroutka, chairman of the National Pro-Life Action center and created by artist Ron Berry, represents the compassion Terri Schindler Schiavo received during her last moments.
An angel comforts and shields Terri with one wing and motions heavenward with the other in anticipation of the final outcome. The four cherubs perched around the base face away from Terri towards the four corners of the earth, charged with the judgment on humanity for allowing such a travesty to occur.
Terri died on March 31, 2005, 13 days after her feeding tube was withdrawn by court order of Pinellas County judge George W. Greer at the behest of her husband Michael Schiavo who had been living with another woman for over 10 years and had fathered two children. Terri had suffered brain damage on Feb. 25, 1990, under suspicious and still unexplained circumstances at the apartment she shared with Michael Schiavo.
He maintained that she was in a persistent vegetative state and there was no hope for recovery, having refused to allow her any therapy or rehabilitation for over a dozen years prior to her death. He refused to allow any new testing, even after medical advancements showed improvements and even recovery in other brain injured patients. She left no living will but he maintained by self-serving hearsay that she had expressed a wish to die and that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive by a artificial feeding. She was not on any machines and the autopsy showed she could have lived at least another 10 years.
Her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler, disputed her wish to die and the PVS diagnosis and said due to Terri’s religious upbringing, she would never have made such a statement. They maintained that she had been misdiagnosed and was in a minimally conscious state with hope for some degree of recovery with therapy.
Terri’s parents and her brother, Bobby Schindler were present in Washington for the unveiling Wednesday.
“Throughout the entire struggle to save Terri’s life and to this very day, the Schindler family has been a profound example of Christian familial love. Their presence make’s the announcement even more significant,” Peroutka said. “It is our sincere hope that our effort will help to bring the Schindler’s inspirational work on behalf of the disabled and infirmed into the forefront of the public forum.
“Terri Schiavo’s struggle for life has taught us a very important lesson: that each and every human life is sacred, regardless of physical limitations, stage of development or circumstance and this is a something the world cannot afford to soon forget,” stated Peroutka. “It also is true that those ignorant of history are bound to repeat it. This tragic circumstance must never be allowed to be repeated or forgotten.”
“Compassion has also received the support of the Pro-Life Action League; American Life League, Christian Defense Coalition, Crossroads Pro-Life, Defend Life, Faith and Action, Institute on the Constitution, The Justice Foundation, Life Dynamics; Life Training Institute, The Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, National Black Pro-Life Union, The National Clergy Council, Priests for Life, Thomas More College; Veritas Media Group Inc., WAVA and others.
“If we are to ever heal the deep wound in our country that has been caused by the callous, calculating methodology of the proponents of the culture of death, then we must never forget the horrible, painful and undignified way that Terri was put to death,” said Peroutka. “It is our sincere hope that this memorial will inspire others to take up the mantle of defending the disabled, the infirmed and the innocent unborn of this world who have been so targeted.”