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PRAVDA USA REPORT: Media, biased polls are giving America a warped view of Terri Schiavo plight.


3/24/2005 9:18:00 AM by Robert Knight


Last Sunday, two days after Terri Schiavo’s water and food were cut off, 501 Americans were told by an ABC News Poll that Terri “has been on life support for 15 years,” and that “doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible.”


Then they were asked: “Do you support or oppose the decision to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube?”


Not surprisingly, given the inaccurate picture conjured of a coma victim hooked up to multiple machines to sustain what amounts to a living corpse, 63 percent supported Michael Schiavo’s intent to kill his wife by slow starvation. Only 28 percent opposed it, and 9 percent were not sure.


Some 70 percent also said they disagreed with Congress’ intervention. That soon became widely confused as 70 percent of Americans applauding Terri’s starvation.


The ABC Poll was quickly echoed throughout the media, on broadcast networks and in major newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. Word grew on Capitol Hill, where Republicans were rushing to enact legislation to protect Terri’s right to a federal court hearing, that the American people were not with them. The figures also were noted in Tallahassee, where the Republican-controlled Senate refused to approve a bill to reinstate Terri’s food and water while legal issues were being fought.


On March 22, WorldNetDaily revealed the poll’s miswording.


In a subsequent poll on March 22 by CNN/USA Gallup, in which Terri was still described as “in a persistent vegetative state who was being kept alive through the use of a feeding tube,” the number of those supporting the kill order dropped to 52 percent. Was word getting out, at last, that Terri is not a “vegetable”?


Leave aside, for a moment, the fact that physicians have filed affidavits disagreeing with the diagnosis of a “persistent vegetative state,” and that there is ample testimony from Terri’s parents, siblings, nurses and others that she is responsive, emotional, and by no means a “vegetable.” These should clearly be grounds enough to support doubt and halt this grisly execution. Convicted killers are spared with far less doubt.


But the case has been surrounded by so many lies and distortions, many politicians are running scared of the polls.


Here is more evidence that America is being manipulated into accepting what amounts to a public execution of an innocent woman whose parents are begging for her life.


A majority of media coverage has centered on claims by Michael Schiavo, Terri’s adulterous husband, who says she told him she wanted this. By contrast, Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who are willing to care for her and take on all expenses, garner far less airtime and print. The Media Research Center reports that of 31 reports on major networks between March 17 to March 21, 60 percent concentrated on Michael Schiavo’s claims and 40 percent featured the Schindlers’ case.


No poll has been taken to ask these questions:


Are you aware that Michael Schiavo is living with another woman, has sired two children by her, and admitted melting down his wife’s wedding ring to make jewelry for himself?


Did you know that Michael Schiavo never mentioned any alleged statement by Terri that she did not want to be kept alive this way until years later, when a settlement was reached in a malpractice lawsuit awarding him more than $1 million for Terri’s rehabilitation, and around the time he moved in with the other woman?


Did you know that the description of Terri being in a “persistent vegetative state” is disputed by numerous physicians, including a Mayo Clinic neurologist?


Did you know that Carla Iyer, a nurse who cared for Terri in the mid-’90s, filed an affidavit (available at saying that Michael openly pined for Terri’s death, prohibited the nurses from providing even the smallest comfort, such as a cool washcloth, apparently tampered with Terri’s charts showing any rehabilitative progress, and reportedly asked, “When is that b---ch going to die?”


On another level, the media are working strenuously to persuade us that starving to death is actually a pleasant experience. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times’ “Body in decline” graphic (March 23) describes it, accompanied by a healthy-appearing body: “Experts say dehydration and starvation in the terminally ill are painless.” The text next to the brain in the picture reads: “Compounds produced by the body create a sense of euphoria.”


First, Terri is not terminally ill. She is not dying. She is being killed by starvation. Second, if such patients do not feel anything, how can they feel euphoria?


Doctors such as David Stevens, president of the Christian Medical Association who has practiced medicine in Africa (where dehydration, sadly, is quite common), sharply dispute the notion that starving to death is not painful.


Dr. Stevens notes in a press release, "As dehydration begins, there is extreme thirst, dry mouth and thick saliva. The patient becomes dizzy, faint and unable to stand or sit; has severe cramping in the arms and legs as the sodium and potassium concentrations in the body go up as fluids go down.


"In misery, the patient tries to cry but there are no tears. The patient experiences severe abdominal cramps, nausea and dry-heaving as the stomach and intestines dry out.


"By now the skin and lips are cracking and the tongue is swollen. The nose may bleed as the mucous membranes dry out and break down. The skin loses elasticity, thins and wrinkles. The hands and feet become cold as the remaining fluids in the circulatory system are shunted to the vital organs in an attempt to stay alive. The person stops urinating and has severe headaches as their brain shrinks from lack of fluids. The patient becomes anxious but then gets progressively more lethargic.



"Some patients have hallucinations and seizures as their body chemistry becomes even more imbalanced. This proceeds to coma before death occurs. The final event as the blood pressure becomes almost undetectable is a major heart arrhythmia that stops the heart from pumping.


"Contrary to those that try to paint a picture of a gentle process, death by dehydration is a cruel, inhumane and often agonizing death."


Whether the media pick up on this sobering reality check is anybody’s guess. Given the previous coverage, it will probably take Divine intervention and a profound change of heart. Let’s pray that this happens.


Robert Knight, a former news editor for the Los Angeles Times and former Media Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, directs Concerned Women for America’s Culture & Family Institute.


Concerned Women for America

1015 Fifteenth St. N.W., Suite 1100

Washington, D.C. 20005

Phone: (202) 488-7000

Fax: (202) 488-0806





Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved