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(DV) Hess: Following the Terri Schiavo Donation Money







Following the Terri Schiavo Donation Money
by Michael Hess
March 28, 2005
First Published in BBS News

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CNN among others have been giving heavy airtime to some “right to life” folks and organizations that generally get little coverage of their extremism. Randall Terry has made threatening overtures to sitting politicians over the Terri Schiavo drama, “there will be hell to pay”; and Pat Mahoney has bemoaned the “judicial activism” in this case.

Much of the news coverage has delved into the emotional aspects of the case and it has made for tear-jerking drama on television. It is also a ready made commercial for those who seek money for so-called “right to life” causes. A quick search of the internet for donation sites related to the Terri Schiavo case has revealed the following:

“Faith and Action"” and the “National Clergy Council”

“For a tax-deductible gift of $25, Faith and Action supporters can join the effort to save Terri and our Right to Life.”

This outfit has ties to Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, they offer to take a dead rose for every 25 bucks to legislators, presumably to make some sort of point to members of Congress. Although it seems clear that the objective is to solicit money based upon ludicrous statements such as, “Terri is highly responsive to her loving parents who visit her almost daily, and to her doctors, nurses and other caregivers.”

Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Dissenting medical opinion has been dismissed as non-credible.

On their generic donation page there are four choices at the time of this writing, the first filled out for $25.00 and in Terri's name and the others for zero dollars, you fill in the amount.

From there one can click on a link entitled “Terri Schindler-Schiavo Donation” and the verbiage from that pop-up page states: “Please help save Terri Schindler Schiavo's life. Your donation will go to support Terri's family and Faith and Action's efforts to assist them. Your donation may in the short term go to save Terri's life, but in the long term will go great lengths to support every human being's Right to Life. Thank you for your help.”

Clearly revealing the intent to take money based upon the emotionalism of this tragedy, but after Terri dies, the leftovers will go to the standard “right to life” coffers.

“Operation Rescue”

Most Americans are familiar with this radical anti-abortion group along with Randall Terry, and they are right in the thick of things trying to make money from this tragic case. Terry has been snapping up camera time as often as one will point at him during the Schiavo drama.

“Please consider sending an Emergency Gift of $35 or more so we have the necessary resources to wage this life-or-death campaign on Terri’s behalf. Remember: She can’t speak for herself, so we are the Voice for Terri.”

Profiteering from tragedy is bad enough, but lying about an issue to get money is far worse.

Operation Rescue's hook is “It’s about Michael Schiavo attempting to kill his wife -- and collect a lot of money that was supposed to go toward her therapy and rehabilitation.”

Which of course is simply not true as multiple court proceedings have shown many times. Michael Schiavo has taken exceptional care of his wife.

“Your Catholic Voice Foundation”

On their donation page at the time of this writing, a Terri Schiavo blurb was found: “Terri Schiavo Fund: Terri Schindler Schiavo, a daughter of the Church and a faithful Catholic for all of her life, is being starved to death by judicial tyrants. Her religious rights and civil liberties are being grossly violated in an act of anti-Catholic bigotry that reflects utter contempt for the sanctity of life. Please Support LIFE.”

Searching for the term “Schiavo” returns zero results at their Web site so it is hard to determine what the “Terri Schiavo Fund” is intended to be used for.

“Right March”

Their pitch appeals to the emotional heartstrings as follows:

Time is running out for Terri Schiavo. She's been starving to death for seven days now. An expert neurologist from the Mayo Clinic has testified that she is NOT in a ‘persistent vegetative state,’ but is very aware of what is going on around her. That means that in her present state, she is in a great deal of pain and suffering from starving to death -- she just can't communicate that fact to those around her. Contrary to those that try to paint a picture of a ‘gentle process,’ death by dehydration is a cruel, inhumane and often agonizing death.

We MUST stop this inhumanity NOW.

There are undoubtedly more, a Google search using the terms, “donate Schiavo” reveals 263,000 links, including the above listed sites soliciting donations. The above were in the top of the results and, of course, the donation page from the “official” Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation was at the very top. There, the associated language makes clear what the fund is and what it is not:

Please note: Because the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation is solely focused on saving Terri's life, the Foundation is not a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. Therefore, private donations to the Foundation are not tax deductible. All donations are used solely for the purpose of protecting Terri. Donating through this website and direct mail to the Foundation's St. Petersburg Beach address listed below are the ONLY ways to guarantee that 100% of your donation will be received by the Foundation.

Farther down on the donation page it reads: “For your safety: Only the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation and Life Legal Defense Foundation collect donations for the direct purpose of protecting Terri. Any other source that claims to be a fundraising effort on her behalf should be brought to our attention here.”

There was a link to the Life Legal Defense Foundation, and they don't make a plea directly on their donation page, instead they have a testimonial on their “about” page:

Life Legal Defense Foundation relentlessly defends the sanctity of human life. Whether funding precedent-setting cases, like that of Terri Schiavo, or providing everyday legal services using LLDF attorneys and attorney affiliates. LLDF ensures effective representation for advocates of the unborn and those facing forced death from euthanasia. The services provided by LLDF literally save lives.

-- Justice William P. Clark, Retired California Supreme Court; National Security Advisor for Ronald Reagan"

In any case, there seems to be ample proof that the anti-abortion wing of American culture is profiting from the very tragic case of Terri Schiavo, a woman who although her husband went to extraordinary lengths to get her the best care and therapy, has now become a political cause and a money making proxy issue for right wing anti-abortion groups in the United States.

It is possible that the people administering the “official” Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation don't know about other groups who are soliciting donations to further their own “right to life” ambitions. But the implication from their donation page is that the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a vocal “right to life” organization, is an accepted beneficiary from Terri's tragedy.

Media coverage, by not giving ample voice to the facts of this case and the extensive litigation of each and every point of contention, is giving loads of free advertising to the groups to solicit funds that have nothing to do with Terri Schiavo.

By not airing more clearly the early years of this case, where Michael Schiavo went to extraordinary lengths to care for and improve his wife's life and condition, they have allowed him to be mistakenly vilified. Today a man was taken into custody for “putting out a hit” in an email on Michael Schiavo's life.

By not fully articulating just who Judge George Greer is and his determined and resolute application of law and jurisprudence in the Terri Schiavo saga, the media has allowed him, and by extension the entire judiciary, to suffer even more erroneous urban myths about “activist judges.” Judge Greer is also reported to be under extra security because of threats over the Schiavo case; legislators have also been threatened according to news reports.

When the media does not fully question facts surrounding an issue, they are doing as much a disservice to American ideals as are congressman and state executives who would try and change a final state court outcome by legislative fiat.

They may be inadvertently encouraging that emotional rhetoric seems more real than the actual facts surrounding such an emotionally charged issue.

Michael Hess is the editor of BBSNews in Charlotte, North Carolina, where this article first appeared. He can be reached at:

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