CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Michael Schiavo
Aired October 27, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, exclusive: Michael Schiavo speaks out about his emotional fight to have his brain-damaged wife's feeding tube removed. He says he's trying to follow Terri Schiavo's wishes. Her family calls it judicial attempted murder.
Michael Schiavo with personal insights into a 13-year ordeal is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a case the whole world knows about. And Michael is joining us here in the studio with George Felos. George is his attorney. Nationally known, by the way, for the landmark Florida case that established an individual's constitutional right to refuse or withdraw from unwanted medical treatment. That was the Estelle Browning case in the late '80s. And George also wrote the book "Litigation as Spiritual Practice."
Michael, I thank you very much for coming. Why have you finally decided, by the way, to come out and speak?
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: I don't think I've really decided to come out and speak. My voice has been heard through the courts for the last six years. I'm here...
KING: But mediawise.
SCHIAVO: Mediawise? Because I think the -- my main point is because of what the legislators did.
KING: That angered you?
SCHIAVO: That angered me deeply.
KING: Let's go back a little and then bring everything up to date.
By the way, George, for the benefit of today have you filed an appeal of that rule?
GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: We have filed a suit in court -- in the circuit court, that's the trial court in Pinellas County, to have that law declared unconstitutional.
KING: And if that judge rules in your favor, then you -- this eventually is going to wind up in the Florida Supreme Court.
FELOS: The Florida Supreme Court. KING: But not the United States Supreme Court?
FELOS: Well, we're pursuing Terri's state constitutional remedies. The state of Florida has a very strong privacy clause, which means she can control her body and make her own decisions, and we think, under Florid law, the court's going to declare this unconstitutional.
KING: Let's go back. What happened, Michael, on February 25, 1990?
SCHIAVO: I work late at night. I used to run -- manage restaurants. I came home around 2:00 in the morning, climbed into bed.
KING: No children?
SCHIAVO: No children. Terri and I were trying to have children. We were back and forth to a doctor for a year or so, trying to find out why we weren't getting pregnant.
Climbed into bed. Terri said good night to me. Gave me a kiss. She woke up, said good night, gave me a kiss. I gave her a kiss back. I'd say, about 4:30 in the morning, I was, for some reason, getting out of bed and I heard a thud in the hall. I race out there and Terri was laying in the hall. I went down to get her. I thought, Well, maybe she just tripped or whatever. I rolled her over and she was lifeless. And it almost seems like she had this last breath.
So I held her in my arms, and I'm trying to shake her up. I ran over, I called 911. Her brother happened to live in the same complex as we did. I called him. I went back to Terri. And from there, six, seven minutes later, the paramedics...
KING: And the way she is now is the way she was that night?
SCHIAVO: That night she was totally unconscious.
KING: And later what developed? She opened her eyes open?
SCHIAVO: Probably about a month later, she opened her eyes.
KING: What was the diagnosis? What happened to her?
SCHIAVO: What we can fathom right now is her potassium level was very low. More than likely, bulima. Her potassium was very, very low. She had a 2.0, which caused cardiac arrest.
KING: Was she a bulimic?
SCHIAVO: When I was with her, when we were together, Terri would eat and eat and eat.
KING: ...throwing up her meals? SCHIAVO: Right. Bulimia, as from I've learned over the years, is a very secretive disease. Terri's electrolyte balance in her body that day -- she had a 2.0 potassium. Now potassium feeds your heart, makes your heart pump.
KING: Now, in November of 92 -- I want to get this straight -- you filed a malpractice suit against the doctors for misdiagnosing her, right?
KING: The jury awards you $1.2 million in the case. Did you collect it eventually? Is that all...
SCHIAVO: Eventually, yes.
KING: All right. And what was the malpractice? What did they do wrong?
SCHIAVO: Terri was -- Terri and I -- like I said, Terri and I were back and forth to the doctors. We were trying to get pregnant. Terri wasn't getting her period. We would go month to month, she would go back to the primary doctor, back to the gynecologist, back to the primary, back to the -- we did this for a month.
Comes to find out that nobody ever took a history of Terri. And in the year's time, nobody ever took a vial of blood to check anything that was going on with her.
KING: You mean they could have prevented this?
SCHIAVO: They could have prevented it.
KING: Something could have been picked up? Potassium -- a blood test you can find out potassium level.
SCHIAVO: It's easy to do with a simple blood draw.
KING: Were you, Michael, close with her parents?
SCHIAVO: I was very -- I was -- to me, I was very close. I was very close to her mother. Her mother and I are very good friends.
KING: And were they supportive with you? I mean, were you close as a family when Terri was in this state in 1990?
KING: I mean, did you visit the hospital together? They -- you commiserated with each other?
SCHIAVO: Mostly my mother-in-law and I. The rest of the family I really didn't visit to much, but...
KING: The father-in-law didn't visit?
SCHIAVO: Yes, he did. But it was mostly my mother-in-law that took care of the day-to-day.
KING: When did a cleavage occur?
SCHIAVO: In February 14 of 1993.
KING: You remember the date?
SCHIAVO: Yes, I do.
KING: What happened?
SCHIAVO: I was in Terri's room, as I usually did. I usually...
KING: She's in a hospice, right?
SCHIAVO: She's in a hospice now. She was in a....
KING: And she's being fed through a tube, right?
KING: Nothing else is being done, just they feed her?
SCHIAVO: Well, I had -- there was other things being done. I mean. we can touch on the rehab part in a minute. But right now...
KING: OK, the break with the family.
SCHIAVO: Her father and mother came into the room. And they closed the door. And they asked the big question, How much money am I going to get? And I told them I wasn't going to get any money.
KING: Out of the malpractice?
SCHIAVO: Out of the malpractice suit. Then he argued with me for a little while. And then he pointed at Terri in the wheelchair and says, How much am I going to get from her money?
And I said, you have to go talk to the courts about that.
KING: She got money, too?
SCHIAVO: Yes, Terri got money.
FELOS: Terri got the bulk of the money.
KING: OK, which was used for her rehab and for her medical expenses?
FELOS: Medical expenses.
SCHIAVO: From there, it blew up. He wanted to go out in the hall and have a fist fight. It was crazy. It was ludicrous.
KING: Did this shock you?
SCHIAVO: No, because he's always wanted the money. He always wanted money out of this. He even testified in the first trial that he was angry that he didn't get any money.
KING: And what about her mom?
SCHIAVO: Her mom kind of just stood between us. She yelled at me not to do this, don't do this. They stormed out of the nursing home. And from then, they tried to sue me numerous times to have me removed as guardian. And from then, they really basically didn't have any care with Terri. They hardly showed up to see Terri. Their main concern to me was the father was angry because he didn't get any money.
KING: So what do you make of what they say about you? I mean, are you shocked?
SCHIAVO: No. I wouldn't expect any less from Mr. Schindler.
KING: Did they not accuse you of denying Terri any rehab treatment since 1993?
SCHIAVO: Let's talk about the rehab.
When this happened to Terri, I sued Prudential Insurance for her rehab benefits. She (AUDIO GAP) Bayfront Medical Center for three months getting extensive rehab...
KING: In Clearwater, right?
SCHIAVO: In St. Petersburg.
SCHIAVO: She spent three months there. Then, while she was there, we heard of this doctor in California here that was doing experimental surgery, implanting stimulators in people's brains in hopes to stimulate any activity.
Now, we were told with this, too (Ph) when this doctor looked at the CAT scans, that it was probably not going to work Because there's just no brain left. But I did it anyway, because I loved Terri. And I wanted to bring my wife back. I wanted to have my wife back in me.
So I flew her out to California by myself, with a nurse. And I spent a month there. They inserted the stimulator.
KING: Didn't work?
SCHIAVO: No, it eventually didn't work, no. The protocol for the stimulator was three months. I kept it on her for a year.
KING: Did she ever speak since 1990? SCHIAVO: Terri never has spoken a word.
KING: So various types of rehab were conducted?
SCHIAVO: Right. When I got -- when I brought her back from California, I put her in a rehab called meddaplaques in Bradenton, Florida. They deal with only head injury, spine injury patients. They worked estentionally (ph) -- they had physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy. They worked extensively with Terri.
SCHIAVO: Nothing. And her mother and father were there. And they heard this. They knew this.
KING: So accusing you of not giving her any rehab is false?
KING: OK. Let me get a break in and we'll come right back, Michael. And George Felos is with us as well.
As we go to break, here's a recent statement by Terri's father after a recent court ruling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: I started kissing her and she finally started flinching away, like, Get out of here, dad. But no, she's great. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I thank the governor. I thank everybody in the legislature. I mean, there's a lot of people up there that pulled together. It's just incredible. Totally incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Michael Schiavo. With him is his attorney, George Felos. What is the current medical state of Terri?
SCHIAVO: Terri is in a chronic, persistent vegetative state.
KING: Meaning she has...
SCHIAVO: She has no awareness, no consciousness. She's in a contracted state. Her hands, her arms, her legs are contracted.
KING: We see now there, we see the eyes open. A smile. It looks like a smile.
SCHIAVO: Now, you've got to remember here, too, when the Schindlers show their little snippets of Terri, there's four and a half hours of tape. OK?
KING: This is edited?
SCHIAVO: This is edited. This is a tape where they snuck in against a court order after the judge said, do not photograph her.
KING: But she looks like -- right, she's not in a coma
SCHIAVO: Right. But you're missing half -- you're missing three-quarters of the other tape where her mother does the same thing, and she does nothing. Now, Terri makes the same noises for the last 14 years. She's made the same facial expressions. She blinks her eyes. She has normal sleep/wake cycles.
Now, the nurses have even testified in the trial that Terri makes those noises when nobody's in the room.
KING: I see.
FELOS: Larry, that's one of the controversies in this case, that people see these videos and say, oh my God, here's a person that's aware. Terri has the classic symptoms of a patient in a vegetative state. If I can have just a couple of seconds. There is the article, the seminal article on that is "The Medical Aspects of the Persistent Vegetative State." And what it says here is: "Patients in a vegetative state are usually not immobile. They may move their trunk and limbs in meaningless ways. They may even occasionally smile, and a few may even shed tears. Some utter grunts, or on rare occasions moan or scream. These motor activities may misleadingly suggest purposeful movements." And that's the case with Terri.
KING: And you've made available for us a brain scan of her, right?
KING: Let's show that. And I saw the piece in "The New York Times" yesterday, in which a neurologist says that this is a brain- dead person.
FELOS: What you see in the middle of Terri's skull there, that black area is spinal fluid. That's where her cerebrum used to be. And because of the lack of oxygen, it atrophied and decayed away. What the court-appointed expert said that you can't get any more abnormal than this. Literally, her cerebrum isn't there anymore.
KING: We want to show this, the father was interviewed on CNN last year. And you have said some things about him, so we want to get just the response concerning you and then we'll pick right up. Here is Terri's father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER: I think it's a terrible injustice to her what he did to her. To leave her in -- to abandon her like that, for all those years. My God, for any human being, you know. You don't treat animals like that. I mean, this girl was literally, you know, cast aside. And he's going on with his life. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You abandoned her. He says.
SCHIAVO: I've been married to Terri for 19 years. I've taken care of her for the last 14 years in this state. Terri's never had a bedsore. And for the first time in 14 years, she had an aspiration pneumonia a couple of weeks ago. The doctors have testified what remarkable care she's in. We've had guardian ad litems appointed in this case.
KING: Where did he get that information from that you abandoned her?
SCHIAVO: He pulls it out of the air. If anybody abandoned her, it was them. They walked away from her.
KING: Then why do they want her to live?
SCHIAVO: Because I believe they're being -- Mr. and Mrs. Schindler know exactly what condition she's in. They were there in the beginning. They know exactly the position she's in. But now they're being -- now they're being fed all this information from these right-to-life activists that's fueling their little flame. They know exactly the position Terri's in.
KING: They have no point to you? They make no point?
KING: All right. Let's put it this way. Why do you want the feeding tube removed? In other words, let's say the parents say they'll take care of her, right? Is that what they say?
KING: Walk away.
SCHIAVO: Why should I, Larry? This is Terri's wish. This is Terri's choice.
KING: It's not written anywhere, right?
SCHIAVO: Yes, but it's been decided for six years of litigation that this was Terri's wish.
KING: No, but I mean, why...
SCHIAVO: Now, they keep saying that I'm the only one that came to the court with these comments that Terri made. There was two other people that testified also.
KING: That she did say that?
SCHIAVO: That she did say that.
KING: But why do you want it taken out? Why do you want the feeding tube removed?
SCHIAVO: This is Terri's wish. And I'm going to follow that wish, if it's the last thing I can do for Terri. I love Terri deeply. And I'm going to follow it up for Terri.
KING: How old was she when this happened?
KING: A 25-year-old said to you, if I die, if I'm in this kind of state, most 25-year-olds wouldn't think of something like that?
SCHIAVO: It was a comment from watching certain programs. She said, we were watching some programs, and she says, I don't want anything artificial like that. I don't want any tubes. Don't let me live like that. I don't want to be a burden to anybody. She's also made comments to other people about different stories.
SCHIAVO: And that has been -- that has been tried over and over and over again. And 19 judges have come to the conclusion that that was Terri's wish.
KING: You've won every legal battle here? Up to the legislature voting to pass a law that exempted this in a sense, right?
FELOS: Yes. I mean, the courts, from the -- this case has gone from the trial court to the appellate court to the Florida Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court, to the Federal District Court. All of those judges have looked at this case, have looked at the facts, and have found that Mike has acted properly.
KING: OK, Mike, in view of all that, though, but the people who have painted the bad picture of you are saying, OK, she's not in pain. It's not costing him anything to keep her in this hospice. Go away. If you can't do anything anymore, she's not in pain, and the parents are willing to absorb the burden, so what?
SCHIAVO: Well, number one...
KING: So what?
SCHIAVO: I'm not going to walk away from Terri, because I love her very much. OK? Terri is not an inanimate object where we're going to pass her back and forth. I married her because I love her. And the other reason is, I won't give her back to the parents for the simple fact of what the father said in the first trial.
KING: What did he say?
SCHIAVO: When he was being talked to from my attorney, he was cross-examining ...
KING: George was questioning him? SCHIAVO: Yes. He was put in a situation, and he basically said that, if he had to, he would cut off Terri's limbs and put her on a ventilator just to keep her alive, because it's what they want.
FELOS: Yeah, he was asked, you know, let's say Terri had diabetes and needed to have a limb amputated to stay alive, would you consent to that? And he said, absolutely. And I asked him, what about the other leg? And he said, absolutely. What about an arm? Yes. The testimony was very disturbing, in that...
KING: George, is it possible he just believes in right to life, and the pure right to lifer would say, you let nothing die?
FELOS: Any type of medical treatment to keep me alive. And the parents in essence testified that that's what they want for Terri, because they want it for themselves. And that's very disturbing. Because it's Terri's right to decide what type of medical treatment, not the parents.
KING: But they're parents, right? Assuming they love their child, very hard -- if they're not in pain, to let a child go.
FELOS: It is -- it is very hard.
KING: Very hard. No this is a tragedy this whole case. There is no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here is it.
FELOS: But the ultimate honor for, Terri, and respect for her dignity is to follow her wish. And I am sure it's very difficult for the parents but...
SCHIAVO: The parents also testified in court that they didn't know what Terri's wish was. It's what they wanted. This is what they want for Terri. So basically it wasn't about Terri anymore. It was about what the Schindlers wanted. Her brother testified it brings them joy.
KING: I have a 35-year-old daughter. I've never asked her this question. I don't know if she has a living will. I hope she does. But if she doesn't, I don't know the answer to the question. Because most 35-year-olds, I guess, don't talk about it.
SCHIAVO: Nobody talks about death, Larry.
KING: Well said. Let me get a break in, and as we go to break, here's a statement from Terri's mother. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what Terri's wishes were before the -- certainly before the accident, or the incident before she got sick?
MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S MOTHER: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never communicated that to you? M. SCHINDLER: No. No, she never said anything to us about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she spoke to Michael, Michael says.
M. SCHINDLER: That's what Michael says.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe him?
M. SCHINDLER: Not really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER: The ramifications of this neglect has to be taken care of. Medically, she hasn't had a gynecological test in 10 years. Her teeth were never cleaned in 10 years. So we're going to have to restore her physically first, and then go after her brain damage. And it's not as bad as people think, or are saying that it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is that wrong?
SCHIAVO: Yes. Terri's had perfect care. She just had her teeth cleaned three months ago. And to touch on the gynecological, the gynecologists that took care of her told me -- and I'm only following what doctors tell me to do -- because it's so hard -- and I'm sorry to be so explicit -- to open her legs. She doesn't open them like you and I would at a gynecological examine.
KING: You to pry them apart?
KING: So it's hard to do a gynecological exam?
SCHIAVO: Right. Right. So unless there's blood, or if there's foul smelling -- I'm sorry to be so explicit, but that's what it's all about.
KING: I guess one of the most damaging things, Michael, was the RN Carlie Ira (ph) who was a family (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- sworn affidavits from this registered nurse who said Terri was alert and oriented when she worked with her.
SCHIAVO: And the judge threw that out. Actually, there was more to that. Go ahead, George.
KING: Tried to turn her head and tried to say something like, hi.
FELOS: The judge said it was unbelievable, to say the least. We had testified Terri's charge nurse at the nursing home when that person worked there, who saw Terri on a daily basis for four years who testified that she never saw any indication of consciousness at all. And I'll tell you why these affidavits -- that affidavit surfaced. Michael was extremely tough with nursing home staff. When the Schindlers first said Michael's not taking care of her the court appointed a guardian ad litem to do an investigation. That guardian ad litem said Michael Schiavo's is the nursing home's worst nightmare. He yells, and screams at the staff and has them in tears to care for Terri. And we have somebody here who probably was yelled and screamed at and had an ax to grind.
SCHIAVO: And she said there was a big note on the front of the chart that says, do not tell the Schindlers any statement. But she stated in her affidavit, that I took it upon myself to call the Schindlers every day. And the judge said, if you did that, then where were you at the first trial?
If you communicated this with the Schindlers, where were you at the first trial?
Why is this coming out six years later?
She also said that I shot her with insulin. If I shot her up with insulin, Terri would have been dead a long time ago.
KING: Are you unequivocally saying, Michael, that if Terri had said to you when you were discussing this, watching that TV show, I want to stay alive, you would not be here tonight, and there never would have been a court case?
SCHIAVO: That was her wish.
KING: You're totally doing this as being her wish?
SCHIAVO: Her wish.
FELOS: This man has been threatened. He had to move out of his house because of threats. He's not...
KING: From who?
FELOS: From people in the public. Letters, e-mails, telephone calls. He has nothing to gain. He's not going to receive a penny upon Terri's death.
KING: No insurance here?
SCHIAVO: There's no money. There's no insurance. There's probably about $50, 000 left in her estate. I will not receive a penny from this. Now, it's funny about that, because you know, back about two years, the Schindlers offered me $700,000 to walk away.
KING: They have that kind of money?
SCHIAVO: They get money from the right-wing activists. The right wing -- the right-to-life groups.
KING: The right-to-life group was willing to pay you $700,000 to walk away?
SCHIAVO: Right. And two years ago, I offered what was left of Terri's money to charity three times, and the Schindlers refused to do that.
KING: Is it true you became an emergency medicine nurse because of all this?
KING: You're a nurse now in the emergency at the hospital right?
KING: We'll take a break and cover other bases, and later include some of your phone calls. With Michael Schiavo, and George Felos. And we'll ask George where the case is and how far along it will go before it goes back to another judge and ruling on the constitutionality of the law passed in the Florida legislature. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER: It's inhumane. How in the world can you starve someone to death that is, you know, cognizant. She's a person. I mean, you know, it would be like starving you to death, or -- Terri suffers from severe brain damage. And she's considered as being disabled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Michael Schiavo, his attorney George Felos. And in a little while, we'll go to some of your calls as well.
What about charges you abused her?
SCHIAVO: The Schindlers made accusations that I strangled Terri. It confuses me, because before any of this came to light, don't you think the doctors at solitary, when it first happened, would notice marks around her neck? And if I strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, her trachea would have been crushed.
KING: Why don't they like you, Michael?
SCHIAVO: Because Mr. Schindler didn't get any money. He wants the money. He wants the control.
KING: What about her ability to swallow? She can't swallow?
SCHIAVO: Terri -- no. She's had three swallow test studies. The last one was done says, no need to repeat anymore. These doctors for 14 years have examined Terri. Speech therapists have worked with Terri. She cannot swallow. Just recently she was in the hospital. She couldn't control her secretions. So what they need to do is go in through her nose and down the back of her throat to suck those secretions out.
KING: When a feeding tube is removed, as it was planned, is that a terrible death?
SCHIAVO: No. It's painless and probably the most natural way to die.
FELOS: When someone's terminally ill, let's say a cancer patient, they lose interest in eating. And literally, they -- by choice they stop eating.
SCHIAVO: Cancer patients, they stop eating for two to three weeks. Do we force them to eat? No, we don't. That's their choice.
KING: True, you have a girlfriend?
SCHIAVO: Yes. And I am very fortunate...
KING: Does it hurt the situation, do you think, as the way the public might look at you?
SCHIAVO: From their side, I'm sure. But you know something? I'm fortunate to have two women in my life that I love very much. My girlfriend right now has done more for Terri than her own mother did. She shopped for her. She washed her clothes.
KING: How do you feel about all this? In your gut, how do you feel? You could have walked away, Michael.
SCHIAVO: I could have. But I love my wife. And I'm going to follow her wish. And nothing's going to stop me.
KING: In fact, if she stayed in that state, let's say, you could get a divorce, couldn't you, easily?
SCHIAVO: I could have.
KING: And marry this girlfriend if you choose to?
SCHIAVO: I could.
KING: And I don't think anybody would be mad at you. Right? Who would be mad at you?
SCHIAVO: This is between Terri and myself. I'm not asking anybody to be mad at me. I'm not asking anybody to agree with me.
KING: But I mean, but one might say putting it bluntly, who needs this?
SCHIAVO: But if you feel strongly for that, you fight for that person's choice. You have that right, as a United States citizen, to have the choice to refuse medical treatment.
KING: What was the argument Governor Jeb Bush didn't listen to, or saw the other side?
FELOS: Well, what happened with the governor was just very, very disturbing. Literally, under threat of arrest from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, police took Terri from her deathbed, brought her to a hospital, performed a surgical procedure against her will. I mean, that's something that you think about in a totalitarian society, where the state owns you, rather than you have individual rights.
We tried to communicate with the governor. The governor was making statements about this case, which were factually incorrect. We sent him about a three or four-page letter to the governor, with copies of court orders, affidavits of doctors. We invited the governor to come and speak with us. He met with the Schindlers a couple of times so he could get the facts in this case. And we were told by the governor's attorney he never looked at our letter.
KING: Never looked at your letter?
FELOS: Never looked at the letter.
SCHIAVO: The House and the Senate...
FELOS: Didn't come and meet with us.
SCHIAVO: The House and the Senate never looked at any evidence. They didn't take any time to look at any evidence in this case at all. They made their decision based upon e-mails.
KING: Do you think that the thing that hurt your side the most, frankly, is that she looks aware? In other words, if you look at her, she looks like...
SCHIAVO: Sure, if you look at her. To a layperson, yes. That's what she looks like. But like I said, they show snippets of a four and a half hour tape. I can show you portions of tape, tapes that Terri does nothing.
FELOS: You know, Larry, this is the simplest way to explain it. Terri opens her eyes and closes her eyes. If her eyes are closed, and you say, Terri, open your eyes, nothing will happen. But if you say it enough times, maybe on the 50th time and you say, Terri, open your eyes and her eyes will open. If you take a little tape and just show the 50th time, someone would look at that and say, oh, my God, she's aware. But those tapes doesn't show the other 49 times.
I want to just read this, the EEGs. You know, there's a lot of misinformation in this case. There is no evidence of cerebral activity. This, another EEG. This EEG does not have any definite brain wave activity.
KING: That's the electroencephalogram, right?
FELOS: Yes. I mean, the tests, the facts, the independent doctors all concur.
KING: She's brain dead in your opinion?
FELOS: She's not brain dead, but she has no consciousness, she has no thought, she has no cognition, she can't -- she has no awareness.
KING: Vegetable (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
FELOS: And she never will.
KING: We'll take a break, come back, include some of your phone calls for Michael Schiavo and George Felos. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER: We have close to 15 doctors that are on record with the courts saying that she can improve and will improve. That's versus I think at best, he has maybe four, maybe five doctors who have testified that she cannot. So it's clearly the majority of doctors that are very excited about Terri's recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: Every time that we go in and see Terri, and greet her, Terri becomes very alert, very responsive, and she tries her hardest to communicate with us. She tries to vocalize.
And it's the only way Terri knows how to speak to us. She's been denied therapy for over 10 years. So we have to teach her to speak again.
But she clearly tries to speak with us and talk with us. And especially her mother, when her mother sees -- when Terri sees her mother, her face lights up and immediately she tries to talk to her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's her brother, Bobby. And you were saying she never -- he never visited her?
SCHIAVO: I can probably count on one hand the amount of times he visited her in 10 years until the media became a big issue with him.
KING: You're saying he's lying there?
SCHIAVO: Oh, yes.
KING: Absolutely, you're saying he's lying?
KING: You hired -- did you hire any private aides for her? SCHIAVO: Right, that was part of the rehabilitation period, when I hired a private aide for three years for Terri that spent eight hours a day, five days a week with Terri. We took her to malls. We made sure she got her hair done, her make-up was on right, trying to hopefully stimulate her as part of the rehabilitation.
KING: With something.
SCHIAVO: With something.
KING: Champaign, Illinois, hello. I'm sorry. Let's try again.
Champaign, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
KING: Hi, go ahead.
CALLER: My question is for Michael.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: What will be his next step -- legal or otherwise -- if the Florida Supreme Court doesn't find the new law is not in violation of Terri's state constitutional right?
SCHIAVO: I'll tell you what -- I'll let my lawyer answer that one.
KING: You first go to a judge, right?
FELOS: We first go to the trial judge. Then this goes up to -- through the appellate courts, hopefully on a fast track to the Florida Supreme Court.
KING: Now if they rule against you, you're dead, right?
FELOS: If the Florida Supreme Court says that this law is unconstitutional, then the state has the right to come in and force you to have any medical treatment they want against your wishes.
KING: Thomasville, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Mr. King. My question is this. Who has control over Mr. Schiavo's wife? And if it's her husband, has he ever considered moving her to a different state where they have more liberal laws in regard to right-to-die, such as Vermont or Oregon?
SCHIAVO: My wife right now is with a hospice house.
KING: I mean, but do you control her movement?
SCHIAVO: I'm her guardian. I'm her legal guardian.
KING: So he's saying move her.
SCHIAVO: I think I'm doing the right thing right now where she's at.
KING: But if she wants to die, and there are states that would allow her to die...
SCHIAVO: I don't know --- I don't know how you would do that legally.
KING: George, can he move her?
FELOS: That's a very complicated thing. Each state has their own laws on withdrawal of medical treatment. And there are some cases where states have refused to move a patient from one state to the other, because they think the state's decision is going to be circumvented.
KING: Did your mother's death have anything to do with how you...
SCHIAVO: Yes, she did. My mother died, and it was the first time I ever came in contact with hospice. And I'll tell you what -- what a wonderful organization those people are.
KING: Did she die of cancer?
SCHIAVO: She died of cancer and she brought me to the realistic world.
KING: I didn't think that Terri fit the terminal concept. I thought cancer means, you know they have a few months to live.
SCHIAVO: Persistent vegetative state in the state of Florida is considered terminal.
KING: Cameron, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Larry?
CALLER: Yes. My question is, why not divorce your wife, or turn her care over to her parents, or a third party allowing yourself to get on with your life?
KING: That's what we asked a few times. You're saying it's purely based on that promise?
SCHIAVO: Purely based on her wishes.
KING: Let's put it this way, Michael -- if Terri saw all you've gone through -- she was somehow ability to watch this program, do you think she might say, go on with your life? I mean, do you think she might? Have a change of thought? SCHIAVO: I don't think so. I think she would -- if it was me, I think she would be in the same seat. She would be sitting here if it was me.
KING: By the way, do you feel the same way? You would want the plug pulled?
SCHIAVO: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
KING: Belton, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Does it bother you that the death is so slow? Maybe Dr. Kevorkian-style would be a faster, more peaceful way?
SCHIAVO: Removing somebody's feeding is very painless. It is a very easy way to die. Probably the second better way to die, being the first being an aneurysm.
And it doesn't bother me at all. I've seen it happen. I had to do it with my own parents.
FELOS: You know, Larry, I want to make something very clear about that.
The law is very clear. This is not euthanasia. This is not assisted suicide. This is letting nature take its course.
KING: Hamilton, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Yes. First of all, I would like to say to Mr. Schiavo, I'm very sorry for what you're going through.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
CALLER: I actually went through something similar with my sister. And it's not an easy thing for people to have to do.
My question is, Now, you stated that you were the legal guardian. If there's absolutely no proof of any maliciousness on your part, why are you having to fight so hard to have this decision done?
SCHIAVO: There's been a lot of legal hoops. They've brought in different -- help me out with this...
KING: The other side? There's been another side, right?
FELOS: Well, the thing about these cases, Larry, is -- I think Michael mentioned before -- this is a death adverse society. Death is one of the last taboo subjects. We don't like to talk about it. We don't like to contemplate our own death. And watching somebody else die, like Terri Schiavo, makes people very uncomfortable.
KING: Stockton, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hello, Larry King.
CALLER: My question is for Michael.
KING: Go ahead, Michael.
CALLER: Has your child and girlfriend benefited from any of the funds you collected from the malpractice suit? And do you think that your wife, Terri, would approve of the mental torture you are rendering to her parents?
KING: Was she close with her parents?
SCHIAVO: Terri was close with her parents, yes. And this has been through six years of courts. And it has been hashed out. So that is their own mental anguish they're going through. So I'm not putting them through it.
KING: She mentioned a child. You don't have a child do you?
SCHIAVO: Yes, I do.
KING: With your girlfriend?
KIN: I see.
FELOS: And they have not benefited financially in one way.
SCHIAVO: They have not benefited at all.
KING: To Tucson, Arizona, hello. Tucson, hello.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: I can't hear.
KING: I hear you. Go ahead.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: I can't hear.
KING: OK. Well, I'm sorry if you can't hear. It's going to be tough dealing with it.
We'll be right back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) M. SCHINDLER: I've always thought there was hope. When I go in there, you know, and she responds to me, She knows I'm there, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHINDLER: And after the money came in, it was maybe two months after that, and I confronted him and asked him when are you going to begin Terri's rehabilitation? And he told me to mind my own business. Now, he had, you know, promised that before. So it was a complete change. And that was the onset of the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIAVO: I don't know where you got the tape from, but that is just totally wrong. He came in the room, he wanted money. He testified he was angry he didn't get any.
KING: He wanted the money for himself?
KING: Not for rehab for her?
SCHIAVO: No, he wanted the money for himself.
FELOS: We heard about the comments on the doctors and rehab. Cleveland clinic, prestigious institution, that was the court appointed doctor. Persistent vegetative state, no hope of any recovery, no rehabilitation. Chairman of the department of neurology of the University of Florida, College of Medicine, Shands Hospital, permanent vegetative state, no hope of any recovery. I could go on and on and on.
KING: Are the parents lying or wishful thinking?
SCHIAVO: I just think they're grasping at straws. I think they're being fed information that...
KING: And what, Michael, is their motive?
SCHIAVO: What their motive is?
KING: In order to keep their daughter alive. They don't have a motive, do they?
SCHIAVO: Probably just to make my life hell, I guess.
FELOS: Larry, you can't look into somebody's heart and know what their motive is. You can just look at their actions. And the fact is that, they've said, we don't believe it's right to let someone die like this.
KING: Aurora, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Hi Larry. I have a question for Michael. Since he's so passionate about it being Terri's wish, when she was 25 years old, that watching a TV program, to give peace to Terri's parents and brother, why doesn't he just take a lie detector test?
And one more quick question. If they could bathe her, they could probably give her a pap smear. So he should just take a lie detector test and it would bring peace and resolution to the situation for the parents and brother.
FELOS: The ultimate lie detector has gone before 20 judges who found Mr. Schiavo to be a loving, caring husband.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you could voluntarily take one, right?
KING: Would you take one?
SCHIAVO: I'll refrain from that right now.
KING: OK. This ain't a court.
SCHIAVO: It's not a court.
KING: Farmington, New Mexico, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Yes, Larry, I love your show and I watch it all the time.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: And my question is, for her husband, if she cannot know what's going on or hear anything, why does she follow the balloons so well when they move it in front of her?
SCHIAVO: Again, that's a snippet. If you go back to four and a half hours of tape, they do the same thing over and over again, and she doesn't do it. The doctors have explained that in court.
FELOS: Most patients in a vegetative state retain reflexive vision and eye movement. That the fact.
KING: Can pictures gone in. Could CNN send in cameras and video her for a while? I mean, she's...
SCHIAVO: I mean, you can get the court tapes and watch those if you like.
KING: Could we go tomorrow?
FELOS: Terri has a right to privacy. Michael has tried to protect that. SCHIAVO: I have fought so long to keep her out of the public eye. I mean, I cannot believe that her parents would...
FELOS: We asked the judge not to release the four hours of videotapes. The last thing in the world Terri would have wanted is to have people see her in her -- in this condition.
SCHIAVO: Can you imagine? In this condition, everybody sitting looking at her?
KING: Are you a religious person?
SCHIAVO: Yes, I believe in god.
KING: Do you have any feelings before all of this about right- to-life, abortion, the whole question of it?
SCHIAVO: You're pro choice. You have to believe that you have the right to choose your own destiny.
KING: Has this affected your faith?
SCHIAVO: No. I still believe god's watching over Terri, and some day she'll be home.
KING: This is a landmark case, George?
FELOS: Yes. With the governor's decree, and the state of Florida's law, this is a clear case between how far the state can go to intrude itself in your life. Another thing I wanted to say, Larry, because I know we're ending, our time this evening, this case should be a message to everyone to write a living will, discuss with your family members what your wishes are. So for your family, the tragedy that has befallen the Schiavo and Schindler family doesn't happen to yours. So, you have to take personal responsibility for your life and do this, if not for your sake, for your family members.
KING: Michael, if you eventually lose in the courts, do you have plans?
SCHIAVO: I'll continue to take care of Terri.
KING: You just will abide by that and continue to take care of Terri?
KING: Would you divorce her so you could marry the mother of her child?
SCHIAVO: We have no plans right now to be married. We're content the way we are.
KING: So if you lose -- if the Florida Supreme Court rules in your favor, there's no guarantee the United States Supreme Court won't hear it, right? It may not be a federal matter, but they'll...
FELOS: Who knows what the United States supreme court would do. We would hope, though, that the governor, the legislature, would respect the decision of the Florida Supreme Court. And if it's that judgment, this law is unconstitutional, let this poor woman die naturally as the court found was her choice, as she stated was her choice as she stated was her choice.
KING: Are you shocked that you've been hounded?
SCHIAVO: I kind of expected it. I mean, I was more shocked when I found that Mr. Schindler received a letter from an inmate asking Mr. Schindler if he wanted to get rid of me. And Mr. Schindler never reported that.
KING: An inmate in a prison?
Who had a contract who could take care of you?
SCHIAVO: Yes. If he wanted to get rid of me.
KING: Michael, thank you. George, thanks for making this possible.
FELOS: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Michael Schiavo, waging the legal battle to have his brain-damaged wife, Terri, taken off of the feeding unit that enables her to live. And George Felos, his book, by the way, "Litigation as Spiritual Practice." And he was involved in landmark cases in this matter in Florida. We'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night don't go away.
KING: And tomorrow night, Ed and Lois Smart will be with us to discuss -- if you don't know who they are, you're on another planet. On Wednesday night the Peterson case comes back into the forefront. And Thursday night, Paul Burrell, in the news. The former butler to Princess Di. Special assistant as well.
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