Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jeb Bush Just Won’t Stop Exploiting Terri Schiavo

Florida Governor and presidential brother Jeb Bush just won’t let go. The sad case of Terri Schiavo was good for his courtship of the extreme religious right. After Ms. Schiavo’s autopsy revealed that her condition had been beyond hope and that therapy would not have been of any use, Bush jumps back into the Shiavo news by asking a state prosecutor to investigate Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband.

The reason for the investigation: Bush’s allegation that Michael Schiavo waited from 40 to 70 minutes from when he heard is wife fall to when he called 911.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Schiavo stated “I have consistently said over the years that I didn’t wait but ran to call 911 after Terri collapsed.” The 911 call was recorded at 5:40 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1990. There is no evidence that there was any delay in the call except for statements made by Michael Shiavo. In a 1992 medical malpractice trial he testified that he found his wife at 5 a.m., and in a 2004 television interview he said that he found her at 4:30 a.m.

The autopsy report places the 911 call about 5:40 a.m. Paramedics found her not breathing at 5:52 a.m., and a pulse was measured at 6:32 a.m. A University of South Florida pathology professor, Dr. Amyn M. Rojiani, who reviewed the autopsy reports for the St. Petersburg Times said he does not believe Schiavo could have been revived if her husband had waited 70 minutes to call for help.

In the malpractice trial in 1992 in which Michael Schiavo successfully sued his wife's doctors, the doctor's attorneys likely would certainly have used any evidence in a delay in calling for help.

But is there any significance to the conflicts in the statements? The one consistency, and the one thing that Schiavo could be reasonable certain, is that the call was made immediately after he heard her collapse. However, in such a situation it is not likely that he would have noted the time. He has said that he was not wearing a watch and did not look at a clock. Not having known the time, his statements two years later and again 14 years later were guesses and could not have any real validity.

Bush, however, is more certain of which statements were correct. "Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."

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