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June 17, 2005

Schiavo Autopsy Aftermath

Many on the left have concluded that Terri’s autopsy vindicates their position. As a doctor, Senator Frist is even taking some heat from cackling lefties.

The argument for me was never about whether Terri’s condition could improve. I was and remain most incensed that a man who violated his vows of marriage by living and having children with another woman could be allowed to decide the fate of a woman contrary to the wishes of her immediate family. Doug of Bogus Gold has a fine post reflecting on other issues not decided by the autopsy.

But this story doesn’t make much sense to me. Why is Governor Bush requesting an investigation into the circumstances around Terri’s fall and how long it took her husband to call 911?

Michael Schiavo apparently testified in 1992 that he found his wife at 5am. In a 2003 interview, he said he found her at 4:30am. His 911 call came through at 5:40am.

“Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."
Occam’s Razor tells me that the simplest answer is probably the right one. I’m guessing that Michael Schiavo’s recollection of time that morning is not exactly clear. Has anyone asked him how long it took for him to call 911? I’m guessing he would say it was almost immediately.

Posted by Rick at June 17, 2005 03:02 PM

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Tracked on June 18, 2005 09:17 AM


Frist is taking heat not from "cackling lefties" but from people genuinely angry at his party's - and his personal - exploitation of a genuine tragedy for political gain. Don't forget, Frist used his status as an M.D. to weigh in on Schiavo's condition. He argued on the senate floor that multiple medical experts were mistaken in diagnosing Terri's state as a persistent vegetative one. "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli." It is no wonder he wants to curb medical malpractice suits. If he had been her doctor he would have been sued.

If you don't believe the Republicans were exploiting Schiavo's condition, then you need to read up on Mel Martinez, senator from Florida, who had to apologize after getting caught distributing a memo to other senators urging them to publicize the Schiavo controversy, saying it "is a great political issue ... and a tough issue for Democrats."

If you oppose euthanasia, that's one thing. But it's not lefties that deserve your ire.

Posted by: dem at June 17, 2005 04:34 PM

Thanks for pointing out the husband's conflict of interest in deciding Terri's fate. I am amazed that this fact was ignored by the media and by many Americans (who perhaps didn't know). This was the real issue for me. It was never an issue of "right to die." Rather it was, "How could someone who was basically committing polygamy be deciding the fate of his spouse?"

Sure, there were probably some Republicans that tried to exploit the situation. And there are many Democrats now trying to exploit the death of Terri Schiavo. Have you heard these words or phrases uttered by Democrats about people who wanted to see Terri live: "theocracy", "religious zealotry", "fundamentalism", etc. Yep, there's been plenty of this since Terri's death.

Posted by: BC at June 17, 2005 11:53 PM

A lesson from the death of the late Vincent Foster, all unexplained deaths must be investigatd as if they were homocides. Mrs. Schiavo's lapse into a coma eventually led to her death. The reason for her collapse have never been determined by the state. So as long as state does not know the reason for Mrs. Schiavo's collape, the State of Florida has an obligation to investigate Mrs. Schiavo death as if it were a murder, until shown otherwise.

This is not an accuastion of any wrong doing on the part of Mr. Schiavo. It simply a description of the legal process apppropriate in a civil and just society.

I am not a foresenic expert, and I doubt the investigation will be conclusive. But it is the duty of the State of Florida to investigate it. The autospy states itself to inconclusive and open to new leds. A citizen died and we don't know why.

Posted by: David L at June 18, 2005 08:19 AM

Vince Foster committed suicide, much as Clinton-haters want to believe otherwise. Numerous investigations established this, including a 40+ million-dollar witch hunt by Ken Starr who was supposed to investigate land dealings but couldn't find evidence of criminal wrongdoing so he fixated on a right-wing obsession: someone else's sex life. For Starr's conclusions about Foster see:

As to the Shiavo case: why would Jeb Bush think it is his job to initiate another investigation of this case now, 15 years after Terri's collapse, when in all that time police never found evidence to implicate Michael Schiavo in any wrongdoing and Terri's autopsy reinforced all of Michael Schiavo's claims (including that he never abused Terri, despite right wing slander claiming otherwise)? Missing time? 15 years later, Michael forgot the exact time! No investigation now will be able to prove otherwise. Bush knows this, but needs to deflect criticism away from himself while maintaining his national visibility in preparation for a run for president in 2008.

Also, as of 2003, there were over 300,000 unsolved rapes and murders in our country dating back 30 years. 6% of the country's population is in Florida, so a reasonable estimate of unsolved violent crimes in Florida is 18,000. This raises several points.

First, wouldn't resources be better used investigating the approximately 18,000 unsolved, established violent crimes in Florida? I don't think Jeb Bush involves himself personally in most of these. Why would he focus on this case right now so long after Terri's collapse if not for political reasons?

Second, people should be discussing the underlying racism that causes the press and the country to fixate constantly and selectively on deaths and kidnappings of attractive white women. One after the other they are paraded in front of us, and we dutifully obsess. Missing persons are usually men, and they are black or Hispanic over a quarter of the time. I'm willing to bet they are not usually middle to upper class or attractive most of the time either, but these are the cases we care about as a nation.

I realize I'm digressing here, but millions of people die needlessly in Africa due to warfare and disease (particularly AIDS), and domestically hundreds of thousands are thought to die annually due to inadequate or improper medical care. In both situations these are preventable deaths. If we are concerned with issues of life and death and morality, wouldn't the attention and resources of our government and our nation be better spent trying to help these people instead of obsessing over the Schiavo tragedy?

Posted by: dem at June 18, 2005 11:32 AM

The late Vincent Foster's body was found some fifty fifty down a trail at Fort Marcy Park at time when he car was not seen in a five car parking lot. There was no dirt on the soles of Foster's shoes. In short there was no indication of suicide.

As for the late Mrs. Schiavo. She collapsed under yet unexplained circumtances. Her collapse eventually lead to her death. An unexpained death must be treated as a homocide until shown otherwise. We don't know why Mrs. Schiavo collapsed. The State of Florida has has obligation to find out.

Posted by: David L at June 18, 2005 12:23 PM


The actual reports (i.e. the best approximation of the facts) contradict the conspiracy theory to which you seem to subscribe. From Ken Starr's own report, here is an excerpt regarding a theory about a briefcase. It clearly states that Foster's car was present in the lot next to where his body was found:
"The Park Police officers who searched Mr. Foster's car at Fort Marcy Park (Braun and Rolla) stated there was no briefcase in the car. The Park Police technician who inventoried the car on July 21, E.J. Smith, stated that no briefcase was found. The Polaroids of the interior of Mr. Foster's car taken at Fort Marcy Park, and the photographs taken the next day at the impoundment lot, do not show a briefcase in the car. (The photos from Fort Marcy show a white canvas bag in front of the rear seat on the driver's side of the car.) ... Officer Fornshill of the Park Police stated that he looked into the car..."

Also from the report, "[Forensics expert Henry] Lee reported that examination of a photograph of Mr. Foster's shoes taken by the FBI Laboratory at the time of its initial examination revealed brownish smears on the left heel. Dr. Lee further stated that his own macroscopic and microscopic examinations of the shoes revealed the presence of soil-like debris."

You can read the entire report at:

I engage in this debate only to point to a parallel: I suspect the facts won't get in the way of those who really want to believe the demise of poor Terri Schiavo was due to foul play and to blame the left for society's problems.

Posted by: dem at June 18, 2005 03:52 PM