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Battle Over Terri Schiavo

Aired March 24, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the United States Supreme Court and a Florida judge deny the desperate please of Terri Schiavo's parents, seven days after her feeding tube was disconnected. We'll have the latest with her parents' attorney, David Gibbs.
Plus, Kate Adamson, who's made what's been called a "miraculous recovery" from a devastating stroke that left her paralyzed. She wants Terri Schiavo kept alive. Jackie Cole, a brain hemorrhage left her on a respirator and a feeding tube, diagnosed persistent vegetative state. She came out of it, but she supports Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo. Joni Eareckson-Tada: a diving accident left her quadriplegic. That did not stop her from becoming a best- selling author, an artist, and a syndicated radio host.

We'll also hear from financial expert Suze Orman on the importance of living wills and health care proxies. That and more, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Also with us, in Minneapolis is Dr. Ronald Cranford, the neurologist and medical ethicist, the University of Minnesota Medical School. He examined Terri Schiavo on behalf of the Florida court and declared her irredeemably brain-damaged.

In Washington, Janet Parshall, host of the nationally syndicated radio and TV program "Janet Parshall's America" who supports the Schindler family. Also in Washington, Julian Epstein, the former chief minority council of the House Judiciary Committee, he's written and published extensively on the division of federal and state responsibilities, and he supports Michael Schiavo's position, the court decisions upholding it.

And, of course, there is a session going on right now, as we speak, in Florida, another appeal in Florida to rehear the case. If we get a decision during this hour, of course, we'll bring it right to you.

Joni, we'll start with you. You're interesting -- you were not left for dead. You were not on a list where a tube was going to be pulled. So, what is your particular interest in this, just as one human for another?

JONI EARECKSON TADA, QUADRIPLEGIC AUTHOR/ARTIST/RADIO HOST: Well, I'm a disability advocate, and there are 26 disability organizations all across the United States from the National Organization on Disability, all the way to the Joni and Friends Disability Center, who believe that Terri Schiavo's rights have been denied as a disabled person. We've heard from her parents, we've heard from her husband, but people with disabilities believe that her case ought to be heard in a federal court.

KING: Do you discount all the courts, every court that has heard it, the United States Supreme Court, all of that doesn't mean anything?

TADA: I believe that they've been making their assessments on the rulings of Judge Greer, who, as we know, has been giving this ruling of persistent vegetative state.

KING: But 15 years, other judges have heard it, other judges have ruled. Aren't we a nation of laws?

TADA: Yes, we are.

KING: Therefore, we obey the law, right?

TADA: Yes, we do, and I believe that Terri -- Terri's Constitutional right to life as a person with a disability has been denied.

Her last review medically was 15 years ago with a CAT scan, but there are new state-of-the-art medical assessment tools which, I believe, should be applied to her case. Let's see what her cognitive abilities really are.

KING: So, at this point, you disagree with the court.

TADA: Yes, I do.

KING: But it is a disagreement. You don't think the court is malicious, I hope.

TADA: I think the court -- I think the court has lacked mercy. No mercy.

KING: But you haven't attended the cases.

TADA: I have been at the hospice, but no, I've just been reading the court records.

KING: Jackie, you're a little puzzling -- you went through all this, right? Jackie Cole...


KING: You were considered persistent vegetative state. How did you come out of it?

COLE: How did I come out of it?

KING: Yes.

COLE: I just woke up one day. That's all. One day my husband... KING: And, then why do you not want Terri Schiavo to try to come out of it?

COLE: Oh, I do. I didn't -- I hadn't realized that she was quite as alert as she seemed to be. I hadn't seen any films of her until just now, and I'm pretty satisfied that the lady is definitely with us. I wasn't -- I thought at one time that there was absolutely nothing going on, but I can't say that after having seen her.

KING: Are you saying you've seen a recent film?

COLE: Yes.

KING: How recent?

COLE: Like, about ten minutes ago.

KING: You saw a film of her ten minutes ago?

COLE: Yes.

KING: And you changed your mind then?

COLE: I've -- yes, I have.

KING: You wanted her to...

All right, John Zarrella, covering this -- before we continue with the panel -- outside of where Terri Schiavo is being held in Pinellas Park.

What's the latest there?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, those videos that you were just talking about would have been the tapes taken of Terri a couple years back...

KING: Yes, that's what I thought.

ZARRELLA: ...recent videos that have been released.

But, here, what I can tell you is that the court, the federal court, is still, after three hours, in session, debating some of these issues, including Americans with Disability Act, a broader range of issues on the fact that Terri may be in a minimally conscious state and not PVS, that based on a neurologist yesterday who came to the defense of the Schindlers.

But the Florida supreme court on those same issues, just a little while ago, refused to hear the arguments by the Department of Children and Families of Abuse and Neglect, et cetera.

And finally, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne, brother and sister, just returned from the hearing and have gone inside to see their sister. We have not seen Bob, Sr. and Mary, her parents this evening. Of course, they, too, were at that federal court hearing, which is still going on.


KING: John Zarrella, to your knowledge -- and we'll check with our lawyer friend, as well, coming -- is this last resort, here, now?

ZARRELLA: Well, they could still appeal beyond the federal court. They could go up to...

KING: Where?

ZARRELLA: ...the appellate level, because they -- they could go to the 11th circuit court again, I believe, on these other issues that they are now bringing up. So, it may still well not be over. They're trying everything possible to continue the fight. So, even though they might lose today in the district court, they could still appeal these other issues they're bringing up, the Americans with Disabilities Act issues, up to the 11th circuit.

KING: Of course. And, of course, while appealing, she remains without feeding.

Kate Adamson, in 1995, at age 33, suffered a devastating double brain stem stroke that left her paralyzed. She not only survived, she made what has been called a miraculous recovery, regaining mobility and function. She's the author of the book "Kate's Journey: Triumph Over Adversity." I have the book right here.

And, now -- but you were not brain dead, were you? You weren't in a vegetative state?

KATE ADAMSON, AUTHOR, RECOVERED FROM DOUBLE BRAIN-STEM STROKE: Well, first of all, my husband wouldn't let me be labeled with anything. You've got a woman here who is being labeled as in a persistent vegetative state. I think based on what's going on, we need to find out what she can and can't do. I had less than one in a million odds to survive. My husband hugged the doctor, he said, praise God, she's going to be the one. He did everything possible to see that I got the necessary care. He was fighting...

KING: Now, Michael did that, though, for six years. He sued a doctor over malfeasance with regard to his wife. This -- it was after six years that he... Right? I mean, he did.

ADAMSON: Larry, I was totally trapped in my body, aware of everything going on around me, unable to communicate with the outside world. I had to live through the horror of having a feeding tube inserted without enough anesthesia, so I felt everything being done to me, could not say anything. That feeding tube was turned off for eight days. I laid there and literally thought I was going insane. My body was screaming out. I'm on the inside screaming out, don't let me die. I don't want to die.

KING: That's amazing.

ADAMSON: Yes, but what's amazing is, I got into rehab. You're looking at a woman been lying in a hospice in a nursing facility. You've shut me off from the sunlight, with no human contact, no radio, no TV. I had to have contact. I had to hear that I was going to survive.

KING: Therefore, are you saying, in a sense, Kate, with your miraculous -- no one should be allowed to die.

ADAMSON: Err on the side of life. Err on the side of life.

KING: In all cases? Even with a living will?

ADAMSON: First of all, at 33, I wasn't thinking about dying. I was thinking about living.

KING: But you were not, in all cases.

ADAMSON: Every case is different. This is a feeding tube. We're not talking -- I was on life support.

TADA: Before somebody's death is proposed, we ought to be using state-of-the-art technology that will properly assess somebody's mental capabilities.

KING: What I'm going to do is take a break, come right back, and ask somebody with that knowledge, Dr. Ronald Cranford, neurologist, medical ethicist, who examined Ms. Schiavo.

We'll be right back, lots more to come. Don't go away.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: They're acting on their heart, and I fully appreciate their sentiments and the emotions that go with this, but I cannot go -- and as I've been consistently saying and I guess you guys haven't been listening and repeating it back -- I've consistently said that I can't go beyond what my powers are, and I'm not going to do it.



KING: We're back. You're looking at the scene in front of the hospice which we've shown you before in Pinellas Park, Florida -- protesters and the like as the story gains worldwide attention.

Before I ask the doctor, Jackie Cole, I want you to clear something up. That tape you saw, was it Terri Schiavo, or were you looking at the tape of someone else?

COLE: It was Terri Schiavo.

KING: But that was not a little while ago, dear. The last tape of her is years ago.

COLE: Oh, maybe she's improved even more. KING: No, no, no. You've seen a tape since this tape?

COLE: No. That's the tape I was seeing.

KING: Well, that's years ago.

COLE: No, no, no, there was another tape that I saw after this. There's another tape I saw after this.

KING: I don't think it's Terri Schiavo.

COLE: Then all right. I'm confused.

KING: All right. Before that, it was your opinion that she should be allowed to die?

COLE: Yes, but under the circumstances, I think that she's got a real strong case for living.

KING: OK. Dr. Cranford, you're the neurologist and medical ethicists who examined her on behalf of the Florida courts. When did that examination take place?

DR. RONALD CRANFORD, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDICAL SCHOOL: I examined her in July of 2002 in the evidentiary hearing before Judge Greer was in October 2002.

KING: And what did you find?

CRANFORD: Well, I found what all the other neurologists except for one found, that she was in a persistent vegetative state. We reviewed the records, we reviewed the CAT scans, we reviewed the EEGs. Four neurologists who had been examining her over 12 years said she was in a vegetative state and three of the four neurologists called the trial clean.

The court appointed expert, Dr. Bambikidis from Cleveland said she was in a permanent vegetative state. And Judge Greer, in the longest evidentiary hearing in American law in a right to die case, said she was in a vegetative state to the highest degree of medical certainty.

And the appeals court reviewed all the medical testimony, reviewed the tapes and reviewed everything and they said that she was in a persistent vegetative state. So that was in October 2002 and then 2003.

KING: Dr. Cranford, if she were kept alive, what kind of life would it be and what is your estimate as to how long she could live?

CRANFORD: Normally a patients life -- lives five to ten years. It's unusual, but it can occur that they live 15 years. She's been like this for 15 years with no change. She can live like this another five, or ten years, but she'll never regain consciousness. She's completely unconscious. KING: So those pictures of years ago, even where we see- and you saw her three years ago -- smiling and the like or seeming to react, are what?

CRANFORD: Well, it's a typical vegetative state, because her eyes are open. If you look at her eyes very closely, even when she appears to smile at her mother, she's not really smiling at her mother, she looking into space.

As you can see, she has no visual pursuit. So, a neurologist can look at those clips and say that she's in a vegetative state, but to the family and to a lot of people, it looks like the interact -- it looks she's laughing, smiling. But Judge Greer reviewed all this information and said she's in a vegetative state. So that's a typical vegetative state patient, just like Nancy Cruzan and all the others I have examined where they really aren't interacting, but they look like they're interacting.

KING: Johnny -- he's a doctor, you are not. He's a doctor, you are not.

What exam do you want him to perform that you said he hasn't done?

TADA: A PET scan, an MRI. There are new modern technological tools to assess somebody's mental capabilities.

KING: Then the question will be this. If the PET scan verified his findings, would you then say it's OK to pull a tube?

TADA: I don't think it's right to a pull tube.

KING: Why the PET Scan, you ain't going to change anyway?

TADA: I think what we need to determine is what in the world did Terri Schiavo want?

KING: So, why do a PET scan?

TADA: ...I would never want to live that way. How do you know what Terri Schiavo...

KING: But even if the PET scan said what he said was true, you'd still want her to live?

TADA: I do believe she should live, because I don't think a PVS state warrants a death sentence.

KING: Why not -- before you go Kate -- why not a PET scan, doctor?

CRANFORD: We can do a PET scan. We'd have to take her to New York. I investigated that in 2002. I contacted New York Cornell Medical Center, Atlanta, Miami. I recommended a PET scan.

A PET scan might be of value, but honestly, in 2002, considering the findings on examination, the CAT scan which showed massive atrophy and the EEGs, which are flat, I didn't think a PET scan would be of much value.

And in 2002, Larry, both sides would never have agreed to send her to New York Cornell Medical Center, which is the only place in the country that could PET scan.

This is just a smoke screen, Larry. If we did a PET scan and it showed consistent vegetative state, they still wouldn't want us to stop treatment. So all this is smoke screen, the MRI, the PET scan, they're never going to agree she's in a vegetative state no matter what we do.

KING: Kate, how would you respond? Hold it, doctor. Kate?

COLE: You know what, doctor, just because someone is unresponsive, it doesn't mean to say there isn't a soul in there.

None of us can get inside Terri Schiavo's head...

KING: Of course not.

TADA: But when we look at those videos, it does raise doubt about the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state.

KING: But he's a doctor.

TADA: That may be, but he's offering a subjective, bias

KING: How do you know?

TADA: Because he's got the quality of life perspective that says, oh, people are better off dead than disabled.

KING: Do you know him?

TADA: No, I don't. But those assessments by medical professionals assume that people with disabilities such as myself and others wouldn't want to live this way.

KING: Doctor, why not do -- before we get to Julian and Janet -- why not do what the president said, simply, come down on the side of life.

COLE: What's the harm?

KING: So what?

CRANFORD: We did come down on the side of life. The longest right to die case in the history of American law, seven years in the Florida courts, Judge Greer bent over backwards every time to help the Schindler family. And he finally said he had enough. The courts have ruled that the Florida judicial system had an extensive hearings. We have erred on the side of life for seven years. We can't err more on the side of life than we already have.

KING: Why not ten years, why not fifteen years?

COLE: Well Larry, this is a feeding tube. We're not talking about life support. What is the harm in treating here? let

Let me ask you, doctor, because I actually went through rehab. I had to hear that I was going to get better. I had wonderful people working with me. A team of 15 people: a speech pathologist, occupational therapists, physical therapists. Now we know Terri at one point was swallowing Jell-O, we know she was saying some words. What happened to the speech pathologist?

What happens when you put a skilled nursing facility, in a hospice, in that kind of environment? Why not put her with the family who want to love for her as she is in the condition she's in right now? What is the harm? And let's find out what Terri can do?

KING: What is the harm?

Julian Epstein, the attorney and former chief minority council. We know the legalistics. Put that aside a second. I know you're not going to want to do that. What's the harm? What's the harm?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FRM. CHIEF MINORITY COUNSEL, HOUSE JUDICIARY CMTE: Here's the issue. Here's the harm. I respect very much all of the people you have on the show who have been through physical trauma and come through it. And they are remarkable people. And they elected life. But the difference here is that Terri Schiavo -- and this was determined through an exhaustive set of proceedings in the Florida courts and affirmed in the Federal level -- Terri Schiavo did not, at least according to the courts, wish to live in this kind of condition.

And that was based on, not just what her husband's testimony was, what her legal guardian's testimony was and the testimony of others. And that's the essential point.

The legal issue -- and I know you wanted to put that aside, but that goes to, why not the harm. The legal issue here is what is her wish? And the court...

KING: And the court said...

EPSTEIN: And the court has determined that her wish was not to live in this kind of condition. And for the political system to now insinuate itself and countermand what the courts were found was her wish is not only unconstitutional -- and this is a constitutional view that's held by conservatives and liberals alike, it is across the spectrum, from Rehnquist to Ginsburg. And for the political system to change that now just seems to be not particularly in keeping with the law, or with really the values here.

KING: Janet Parshall, are you surprised that the public in the polls overwhelmingly is against the government getting involved? The popularity of the president has dropped 9 percent. The White House is now apparently staying out of it. Are you surprised that the general public opinion is the government doesn't belong in this? JANET PARSHALL, HOST, "JANET PARSHALL'S AMERICA": Well, my first reaction is, I'm so glad that truth isn't determined by a poll. And secondly, in examining those polls, I understand exactly how skewed the question is. When you say to someone you're polling, do you want to be in a coma? She is not in a coma. So we're misrepresenting the facts of Terri's case.

KING: You read the poll?

PARSHALL: Yes, I certainly...

KING: The poll says that?

PARSHALL: From cover to cover. Absolutely.

KING: Hold it, hold it, wait a minute, are you saying that CNN- "USA Today" poll used the word "coma"?

PARSHALL: I'm looking at the ABC poll.

KING: Are you saying that...


KING: CNN-"USA Today" poll did not say "coma."


KING: But are you shocked that it isn't overwhelmingly the other way?

PARSHALL: No, I'm not, because you can get anybody to answer anything based on the way in which you ask the question.

KING: As a conservative, aren't you bothered by the interference with state's rights?

PARSHALL: Absolutely not. And isn't it interesting how the liberals scream state's rights when it's convenient. You know, all we asked for was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hearing...

KING: But you are pro-states rights, aren't you?


PARSHALL: Well, you know what I believe? I believe that mercy triumphs over justice. And in this particular case, to go back to a very important word that Johnny used, let's have mercy here. We have got new techniques that we haven't used before. What is so wrong with not going back and examining that? It's amazing, because we have a man involved...

KING: She's also saying that if the PET scan showed what the doctor said, she'd still want her to live.

PARSHALL: But you know what, you know what, I think what we need to do is first and foremost, let's overturn every stone. You know, if my husband had any kind of a problem, I'd travel the globe, I'd get every test under the sun. Why is Michael Schiavo not getting every test under the sun?

KING: Let me get a break. Let me get a break. I don't have a living will, because you're going to keep me alive. Unless I'm in pain, you don't touch a thing. Everyone else could be -- that's OK. OK? I'm on record with that. Save the tape. But I'm fair with this balance thing. We're trying to get an understanding. Suze Orman will talk about a living will, then back to the panel. Don't go away.


BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI'S BROTHER: I saw her last night, and I said it before, I think the best way to describe the way she looks is reminiscent of I've seen pictures of people in concentration camps. It's just absolutely horrific what I'm seeing happen in front of my eyes, and just the -- you know, death by dehydration and starvation is just absolutely barbaric. And it's almost a surreal sight when I walked into my sister's room. It's hard to explain.



KING: Going to spend a few moments now with Suze Orman, "New York Times" best-selling author, financial planning expert, Emmy- winning TV host. Has a current best-selling book out, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke." Funny title. Covered a lot of people. All right, can something good come out of this?

SUZE ORMAN, AUTHOR: Something good needs to come out of it. And this is what has to happen here. Listen, if we can't see what's happening to Terri and say, you know what, this could happen to us. And we better do something in our own lives that protect us against this happening to us.

KING: At any age.

ORMAN: At any age. We have really lost it, and what's so very sad, this isn't the first time this has happened. Look back to 1975 when this happened to Karen Ann Quinlan.

KING: That's when it all started, right?

ORMAN: Right, back in '83, with Nancy Cruzan. It's just ridiculous that this even got this far, because we don't have the right documents in place today.

KING: So you're saying every person, adult, should do what, 18 years old and up, do what?

ORMAN: No, what's so funny is people are saying they need a living will. Please, let's get a reality check here. Living wills are actually outdated. That is not what they should have. They should have two documents, called an advanced directive that gives the medical doctor the advanced direction of what they should do if something happens to you.

But a doctor doesn't know you. There was a "Wall Street Journal" article written that says 40 percent of all doctors don't even listen to what the advanced directive says. What everybody also needs is a durable power of attorney for health care that gives somebody that you love, somebody who loves you, they are your agent, they make the decisions for you when you can't make them for yourself.

KING: And can you change that if you write this when you're 20 and you get married when you're 25?

ORMAN: Sure, you can change it any time, just like a regular...

KING: Any lawyer can do this, right?

ORMAN: Any lawyer can do it. Actually, you can do it yourself. All you need to do is have it witnessed. Lawyers will do it for you, but you can do these things for absolutely free.

KING: So had Terri Schiavo done this and made some statement, we would have had -- but, does it have to be clear? I mean, could you say take my life if I'm in a coma, leave my life if I'm being force- fed?

ORMAN: That is why you've got to be...

KING: You have got to be specific.

ORMAN: You have got to be specific. And the advanced directive is far more advanced in what living wills used to be. And when you have a durable power of attorney for health care, you are very specific. You will do this, you will do that, you will give me a feeding tube, you will not let me go on a respirator. All, Larry, it is spelled out so clearly, I can't even tell you. These things don't have to happen, and they shouldn't happen.

KING: Because it causes us then to discuss it in the blind.

ORMAN: And we wouldn't have to be doing this. So for those who are watching right now, if they really want to honor Terri, if they really want to honor the people that this has happened to, they need to go out right here, and right now, and get these documents in place.

KING: And would Kate and Joni agree to that?

TADA: Yes, in fact, the durable power of attorney for health care, you have an opportunity to designate a trusted loved one, one with whom you share life values as your health care proxy. And that takes a lot of worry and anxiety away should you become mentally incompetent.

ADAMSON: I'm certainly glad I was married to an attorney, because without him, I wouldn't be here. I'm sorry, doctor, because if I was under your care, I would be dead. You've got to have a strong advocate, Larry.


TADA: We don't know what Terri would have wanted. I...

KING: The courts had to make some determination. What do you do if you're a judge?

TADA: I don't think Terri would have said back then...

KING: You don't know. That's a guess.

TADA: ... if I become mentally incapacitated, I want you to take up with another woman, have two kids by her, and starve me to death, and let me die of thirst. I don't think she would have said that. And I...

KING: No, but she would have said they (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

TADA: We do not know that she would want to die of thirst and starvation. The courts have not looked at that.

KING: Why are you attacking the husband, though?

TADA: No, I'm attacking the fact that the courts have not thoroughly looked at her case.

KING: You emphasize trusted friend as if this is not a trusted friend.

ADAMSON: Well, you need to have an advocate when you can't speak for yourself, Larry.

KING: So you're saying he's not an advocate for her?

ADAMSON: Well...

KING: So what is he gaining out of this?

ADAMSON: Well, he gained a lot of money out of it. We know that.

KING: But that was in a lawsuit against the doctor for not treating her right.

ADAMSON: Exactly, but first of all, you don't treat somebody. This woman was young, she was beautiful, she had youth on her side. You don't treat someone. They...


KING: So you're making judgments about it?

ADAMSON: No, I'm not making judgments.

KING: You're not? You're not?

TADA: I just believe the federal courts did not listen to her case. The husband, yes.

ADAMSON: Larry, we have a lot of disabled people. And they're doing therapy and haven't gotten everything back, but do we get rid of them?

KING: We're all talking about two people we don't know. Right? We don't know them.

ADAMSON: Right, but we're talking to a lot of disabled people out there listening who are on feeding tubes.

KING: Give it again. Not a living will.

ORMAN: No, you want an advanced directive and a durable power of attorney for health care. You need both those documents.

KING: We'll take a break now and come back with that essential question, what's wrong with just keeping her alive if people are willing to take care of her? Don't go away.


KING: Let's remeet our panel.

In Pinellas Park, Florida on the scene is John Zarrella of CNN.

Here in Los Angeles is Kate Adamson who suffered a devastating double brain -- brain stem stroke and recovered.

Joni -- Joni Eareckson Tada, the author of many books, her own program. Her new book, by the way, is "When is it Right to Die?" The forward by C. Everett Koop.

In Minneapolis is Dr. Ronald Cranford, Neurologist and medical ethisist.

In Washington, D.C., is Janet Parshall, the host of the nationally syndicated radio and TV program that bares her name.

And Julian Epstein, the former chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

John Zarrella, what's the latest on the governor's involvement?

ZARRELLA: It's a difficult situation that the government is in. Today, they were many of the religious right here saying that there would be, "Hell to pay" if Terri's life were not saved. Now, the governor can't run for reelection as governor, but if he should choose to run for senator, or the presidency down the road, there certainly could be implications if he can't intervene.

But he even said late this afternoon, that people think he has more power than he does. That he just can not do anything. So, he is in a very tough position being bombarded with E-mails and calls from all sectors of the conservative side of America, wanting him to do something. And there may be very little he can do -- Larry. KING: Julian, is this a case of as sad as it is, that's the law.

EPSTEIN: Well...

KING: Is that what it comes down to?

EPSTEIN: ... it is a very sad case. And as you pointed out before the commercial break, the fact that the family wants to take over the care and feeding of their daughter makes it even more complicated. But you know, I think it's not just Governor Bush that is going to run into trouble with social conservatives, It think it's the Congress. On Saturday, when they were drafting the legislation, they shot me over a copy of it, and I told them that it wouldn't change anything in the courts.

Now, the Congress, with all of its bravado, which was supported by the president, could have done a lot more in this statue to have extended this case on. They could have created an automatic stay. They could have changed the evidentiary procedures that the courts on the federal level use to determine what Terri Schiavo's will was. So, it was a case where Congress really didn't have the courage of its own convictions.

KING: Wait a minute, are you saying they could -- they could have done...

EPSTEIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: She would be back on a...

EPSTEIN: They could have done more.

KING: They could have had her back on a feeding tube?

EPSTEIN: Without question. Congress could have passed a statute and said there should be an automatic stay. And then they could have set up a whole host of new -- either new rights for her or new ways in which you would evaluate the evidentiary standards. And this could have extended the case. Congress did not want to do that. And now, I don't want to suggest this because the polls are going south on both the president and Congressional intervention here, but now you see, interestingly enough, you see Jeb Bush and you see the Republican Congress not proceeding with this thing when they could.

Ultimately, however, the question and the fundamental value that on a bipartisan level, conservative and liberals inside the courts have said is the law. And Justice Rehnquist has spoken to this, Scalia and others, is that if a person wishes to decline life-saving medical equipment, they have a constitutional due process right to do that.

KING: Janet.

EPSTEIN: So, as long as that remains the case, nothing in the finally analyst will change the results. KING: Janet. Janet, accepting what Julian says, are you therefore disappointed with the Congress? He says they could have stopped it.

PARSHALL: No, not at all. No, not at all. No, it's a misrepresentation of what happened. The House side was much stronger, the Senate side was very weak. They struck a compromise, that's why the legislation was called the Palm Sunday Compromise. And the bottom line is, and Julian nailed it perfectly, what did Terri want?

So, you have two competing interests here. The parents say she never would have wanted food and water withheld. The siblings say that that's the case. It's the husband here. You know, Larry, if I did to my dog what's being done to Terri, I'd go to jail. So, something has happened in this situation, where instead of siding on the side of mercy, to use that word again, there is a question here. The de novo hearings, simply means lets go back and review the evidence.

KING: Are you saying -- are you saying...


EPSTEIN: ... that's incorrect, Larry.

PARSHALL: Am I saying...

EPSTEIN: It's incorrect.

PARSHALL: Am I saying...

EPSTEIN: It's incorrect. What Janet just said is incorrect. The Congress could have -- this is a Republican Congress. The Congress could have given Terri Schiavo more substantive rights if they had wanted to and they could have created a procedure which would have stayed that. That is a fact. And Congress elected not to do it and now Congress is now staying away from this. That is a fact.

PARSHALL: No, that's a misrepresentation.

EPSTEIN: It is not a representation.

PARSHALL: Absolutely it is a misrepresentation.

EPSTEIN: It is -- maybe -- you -- you...

PARSHALL: What the Congress did was give a directive to a federal judge who in a very narrow way interpreted the law and would not have...


KING: One at a time.

EPSTEIN: No, that's not what happened.

PARSHALL: That is what happened.

EPSTEIN: What the Congress did, was they took a very limited -- a very limited approach to get this into the federal courts so that the parents could have -- could have standing. And the legal standard was they had to show a substantial likelihood of success, and they didn't because what the lower courts had found was the desire to decline this...


KING: Hold, hold, hold on. Let me get -- let me get in here.

EPSTEIN: The clear point is Congress could have done more.

KING: I know.

EPSTEIN: They didn't. Congress tonight could do more and they're not.

KING: So you're saying -- you're saying Congress put on a little show for the parents?

EPSTEIN: Congress did not have the courage of it's own convictions in this case?

PARSHALL: Absolutely not.

TADA: What Janet and Julian would agree on is that Congress requested a de novo review...

PARSHALL: Exactly.

TADA: ... Terri's case, and they did not do that. The judge refused to do that.

EPSTEIN: They absolutely did. No, I wouldn't agree with that. They didn't do that de novo review.


PARSHALL: Where's the MRI? Where's the review of the facts? Where's the review of the facts? Where's the neurologist who was in yesterday who said...


EPSTEIN: Do either of you understand what de novo review?

KING: What about...

EPSTEIN: A de novo -- a de novo review does not mean that. A de novo review within the context of asking for a stay, means you have to show substantial likelihood that you would win.

KING: Yes, I know that. EPSTEIN: Given the evidence that Terri Schiavo did not want to have life-saving equipment, every court, including the Supreme Court on down, conservative Supreme Court, the 11th Circuit which is majority Republican said, this case doesn't stand a chance.

KING: Dr. Cranford, what do you make of what the other doctor said yesterday, who changed his mind?

CRANFORD: It's bogus. He didn't do an examination. He did a 90-minute interview. He didn't review the CAT scans. He certainly make any mention of the EEG. His examination actually shows she didn't track, no conscious awareness, but the presence of a living cell. And Judge Greer has been fully educated with the vegetative state. He has dismissed it because it isn't credible. It was at the last minute. They finally find a bioethicist -- a Christian bioethicist, who were willing to say she wasn't in a vegetative state. It was a last minute desperation effort, and Judge Greer didn't fall for it. He's been well educated on the vegetative state.

KING: Doctor, you're saying there's no doubt in your mind about the condition of Terri Schiavo?

CRANFORD: There's no doubt in my mind. And you've got copies of the CAT scans there on CNN that were just recently released. There's no doubt in my mind that she's in a vegetative state. There's no doubt in the Florida Courts that she's in a vegetative state.

KING: Kate what -- Kate, what did your CAT scan show?

ADAMSON: I'm not going to get into my thing. I just think...

KING: Well, that's why you're here.

ADAMSON: Yes, that's why I'm here. But we need to -- and I'm -- you know, you need to bring my husband on, who sitting right out here in (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You want him to get into the side of it, because I was the patient, unable to speak, and I'm telling you, doctor, just because someone is unresponsive, it doesn't mean to say they're not inside there.


KING: Had you told your husband to keep you alive under all circumstances?

ADAMSON: Well, first of all, he would do what was right. No, no, you exhaust every possible avenue.

KING: Had you told him anything about that?

ADAMSON: I didn't think I was going to get sick. At 33, I was living life. You exhaust every possible avenue. Doctor, you let someone go, there's no second chances.

KING: Then, therefore, you would be against capital punishment because if you kill an innocent person, as already, we've determined, 150 people have been released...

ADAMSON: Starvation is cruel. Starvation...

KING: Wait a minute -- there's no second chance, right?

ADAMSON: There's no second -- well, there's no second chance. But this is not...

KING: How do you redress that grievance?

ADAMSON: We've got somebody on a feeding tube. Larry, she's not on life support.

TADA: A man who's on capital punishment -- on death row -- has access to the latest technology, DNA evidence.

KING: But, what if you killed him, and he didn't do it? What is his redress of grievance?

TADA: Well, that -- that's it. The point is, if Terri Schiavo dies, life...

KING: But what I'm saying is, why not be against all death?

TADA: Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of what it means to be human.

ADAMSON: Err on the side of life.

KING: So, err on the side of life.

TADA: Err on the side of life. We do not know that Terri Schiavo, years ago, when she was on her feet, would have wanted to die of thirst and starvation. We do not know that.

KING: We'll take a break and include your phone calls right after this.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: A young woman in Florida is being dehydrated and starved to death.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a moment ago, the court issued this one-sentence statement: "The application for a stay of enforcement of judgment in the filing and disposition of a petition for writ is denied."

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a terribly difficult decision which we are institutionally totally incompetent to make.




MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: I think it's an invasion to the American people when you make a private decision in a family matter -- they're thumbing their nose up to the American people and the Constitution. This is a sad day for Terri, and it's a sad day for every American in this country, and people should be outraged.


KING: John Zarrella, I hear something's happened in Pinellas. What's happened?

ZARRELLA: Right, Larry. We don't have the details yet coming out of the court in Tampa, the federal court, but we understand that the hearing has now concluded with no decision, which, of course, means that Terri Schiavo will continue on tonight without that feeding tube being reinserted, and potentially much longer if the judge ultimately turns down that appeal.


KING: If you would make a quick -- I mean, we would imagine there would be a decision tomorrow, wouldn't we?

ZARRELLA: Oh, yes, every one of these decisions by the courts have come down in a matter of just few hours or overnight, six or eight hours. They have not taken long because they know how quickly they must rule for obvious reasons.

KING: Let's take a call, John.

Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. It's an interesting program.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I just was wondering, has Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, has he ever been given a lie detector test, since he's the one who came up with this seven years after she went into a coma? I mean, we're basing everything on what he has to say.

KING: Julian, it's not everything. Julian, was a lie detector ever a part of this?

EPSTEIN: No, there wasn't. There's been a lot of vilification of Michael Schiavo, I don't think this is appropriate to vilify people. He has -- and this has been demonstrated amply by news reports -- he has shown extraordinary love and care during this 15- year saga. It was commented, I think, by his former legal guardian that during the course she hasn't even had a single bed sore. So, I think this is inappropriate to suggest this, and again, the fundamental issue here is Terri Schiavo's wishes, which the courts have said, was decline this kind of...

KING: Kate, why did you scoff when he said that about Michael? ADAMSON: Oh, I didn't scoff, Larry. But, isn't a hospice somewhere you send someone who is going to die? And, you know -- look, I spoke outside the rally last Saturday. I had to wear my sunglasses because it was so bright.

KING: You are paralyzed, by the way.

ADAMSON: I'm paralyzed on my left side, yes, I walk with a limp and have a wear a brace. Here's -- Larry, she's lying in a hospice, she's not allowed any sunlight, no human contact...

TADA: She's not allowed to sit up in the wheelchair; she's not allowed to go outside. He has surrounded her with the accoutrements of death, and this is a disabled person who, we believe, is being denied right for life.

EPSTEIN: And he fought for her life -- he fought for her life for many years.

ADAMSON: Well, going on to have children with another woman...

EPSTEIN: I think that is -- I think that is just an unfair...

ADAMSON: No, he fought to get her into a skilled nursing facility; my husband fought to get me into rehab.

TADA: May I say, that this talk about vilifying Michael is not the point. The point is Michael and his lawyers need to understand the incredibly adverse impact this will have on tens of thousands of Americans with disabilities whose legal guardians might not have their best wishes are heart.

KING: There are no winners, are there?

TADA: There could be. It's awfully late, but there could be.

KING: Los Angeles, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I was just wondering -- my question is for Kate and for the other women who came out of it. Did they ever take a brain scan and say that they were in the same state as Terri?

KING: Kate?

ADAMSON: No, I never said my condition was identical as hers, and my husband, Larry's going to have on, I believe, tomorrow...

KING: I hope so.

ADAMSON: Yes, because I was a patient going through this. It was the most terrifying thing as a 33-year-old, and to have no say in anything and yet I'm inside my body. So we're going to be talking more about that.

TADA: People with disabilities have an enormous will to live, and -- yes, you were able-bodied at on point, but, Kate and I would agree, that once you suffer a severe disability, your body can adapt pretty well.

KING: But, do you agree, if you want to die, you're entitled?

TADA: But when we look at those videos, we can not help but see, here is a woman who connects, who relates, who seems to be aware.

KING: But, the doctor said -- he's a doctor and he answered that.

TADA: He is a doctor, and doctors are often wrong. Let's look at Terri...


KING: But they know more than you and I about the brain.

EPSTEIN: And the courts know more than anybody on this panel about what her wishes were, and the courts have found -- and this has been examined in now 26 different legal proceedings -- that her wishes were not to be put in this state. I don't know why we can't respect that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's hearsay.

KING: Janet, I'll -- Janet...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's not in writing. It's not in writing.

KING: Janet, are you saying, then, we should just -- in the interest of humanity, just looking at her, override the court somehow?

PARSHALL: Larry, what we're simply saying...

KING: I mean, what do you want to do?

PARSHALL: What I'd love to do is, I'd love to go back and I'd love to have -- you've got Dr. Cranford on. Dr. Cranford's been involved with Nancy Cruzan, and Christine Buzolaki (ph). He's known for his pro euthanasia stand. I'd like to have another doctor on, with a different set of credentials, and I'd like him to do all of the tests available to us with all of the technology we now have.

And here's the other issue that nobody's talking about: Michael has gone on, he's gotten a degree in nursing, he's fathered children with another woman. There's a loving family that said, let us -- we don't care if she's in a PVS -- which she's not -- we just want to love her and take care of her. This is not a matter of saying, there's nobody else out there who wants to take care of her. The America public cannot understand by and large, if somebody loves her and wants to take care of her -- mama and daddy cannot even put an ice cube to her lips tonight. That is barbaric.

KING: Dr. Cranford, what on earth, as she just stated, would be wrong with that? If the mother and father are willing to do it, and bear the expense, why should anything matter? If you could ignore the last 25 years of law in the United States, saying people have a right to die. They can make a prince (ph) of self-determination. The courts decided that self- determination was executed by Michael and his wife. So you can't reverse 25 years of law in the United States, from Quinlan on through Cruzan. So the problem with it, the last three right to die cases, Larry, I have been involved with, have all been irreconcilable conflicts between the spouse and the family, and they've been very, very difficult. It's very hard for the courts to do this.

But the fact is, the courts have honored her right to die, and through Michael Schiavo, the appropriate surrogate, and that's the rule of law. And I sympathize with the family...

KING: You wouldn't break into that hospice and take her out, would you?

TADA: No, we wouldn't, but...

ADAMSON: No, I think any parent listening to this tonight would not want to see their own child starve to death.

TADA: Exactly. And there are parents all across this country whose children are on feeding tubes. And they're concerned about how this ruling will affect their children in the years to come.

KING: But they also, apparently, at the same time, don't want the government to get involved.

TADA: They want the government to get involved if their disabled child's rights are being violated by the state.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments and more on this tomorrow, too. Don't go away.


MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI'S HUSBAND: It's outrageous that these people that we elect are not letting you have your civil liberties to choose what you want when you die.

ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI'S FATHER: It's hard for me to believe that they're trying to kill Terri. There's nothing wrong with her. There's no reason for her to die.



KING: Las Vegas, hello.

CALLER: Hello? My question is for Joni -- is for Joni Tada.


CALLER: OK. My name is Jamie Ferar (ph), and I've been disabled for 11 years (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: Jamie, I know it's -- what is your question, dear?

CALLER: My question is, I'm a disabled person. I am very worried about what's going to happen. I mean, are we going to start killing, you know, are we going to start killing disabled people just because -- just because they have a feeding tube?

TADA: Jamie should be concerned.


TADA: Jamie should be worried.

KING: You think we're going to go around killing people?

TADA: This will coarsen our sensibilities as a culture. This decision has influenced us as a society. It has reinforced a better off dead than disabled mentality. It has reinforced that premise, and it has emboldened the legal guardians of disabled people, legal guardians who do not have their wards' best wishes at heart.

KING: And Julian, doesn't that, as a human, legal aside, concern you?

EPSTEIN: Well, look, I'm very troubled by all this. I'm troubled because of what Janet said was the parents' willingness to take over the care and feeding on a emotional level. But the caller, who was just magnificent in the courage to make a phone call like that, does not have to be worried, because what's happening here is a very narrow category of cases, where the person who is in...

KING: Julian, I've got to cut in -- hold it, I've got to break news. Hold on, Julian, hold on. I got breaking news out of -- let's got to Bob Franken, who is at the federal courthouse. Bob, can you hear me?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can, Larry. Let me just explain that they have evacuated about a two-block area around the courthouse, actually more like three, after they found about an hour and a half ago, a knapsack, an empty -- a knapsack that was by itself leaning against the building. Of course, everybody is very concerned. There was a court hearing going on in the Terri Schiavo case.

But as the investigators came in, they kept moving people further and further back and adding equipment and adding bomb squad experts. We are being told by sources that they have detected in this bag some sort of suspicious material, something that has concerned them so much that they want people out of the area, and they're going to continue to take a look and decide what to do with this knapsack.

Inside the courthouse, the hearing concluded. There was no decision from the judge in the Terri Schiavo matter. Federal Judge James Whittemore was being asked whether he should come up with a temporary restraining order, which would result in the feeding tube being returned. He said he would probably make a decision on that tonight. This is the same judge who had earlier refused to do so. But this was a new case, new arguments. And he said that he would consider this overnight and make his decision.

Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, as I said, they're investigating a package that they feel is very, very suspicious. And we're being told by any number of marshals and other police that they've gotten any number of threats, so they take this very seriously -- Larry.

KING: Thank you, Bob Franken. We ran a little over. There will be more of this coming up with Aaron Brown. Thank all of our guests. More tomorrow night. I'll be right back.


KING: We ran over because of that breaking story. More tomorrow night. Let's give it right to Aaron Brown in New York and "NEWSNIGHT" -- Aaron.


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