Parents, President, Pro-Lifers Not Swayed by Schiavo Autopsy

Autopsy results that found Terri Schiavo suffered from severe brain damage did not sway her parents’ and their supporters’ position that she deserved to live and may have gotten better with therapy.

"We knew all along that Terri was profoundly brain damaged," said Schiavo's brother, Bobby Schindler to the Associated Press. "We simply wanted to bring her home and care for her. It all goes back to this quality of life."

The medical examiner’s post-mortem investigation, which was released Wednesday, found Schiavo’s brain was half that of a normal woman her age by the time she died on March 31. The autopsy also found that the damage to her brain was “irreversible” and that she was blind.

Bob and Mary Schindler, Schiavo’s parents, disputed the results and said their daughter had tried to interact with them as well as attempt to speak. Their attorney, David Gibbs, said the family plans to discuss the autopsy with other medical experts, according to the Associated Press.

The findings came 10 weeks after the internationally-watched right-to-live battle ended with the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube for the third and last time.

The autopsy confirmed that the cause of Schiavo’s death – which occurred 13 days after her tube was removed – was dehydration. However, the investigations did little to find the underlying reason for her sudden collapse 15 years ago that damaged her brain.

Medical examiners ruled out both an eating disorder and physical abuse as the cause of her collapse. They also discounted the possibility that Schiavo overdosed on caffeine from drinking large amounts of tea in an effort to lose weight.

After the long-awaited autopsy was released, Schiavo’s husband – the main advocate of the 41-year-old brain damaged woman’s feeding tube removal – said he planned to make public the autopsy photographs of her shrunken brain.

His attorney, George Felos, also said the findings back his client’s claims made “for years and years” that Terri Schiavo had no hope of recovery, according to AP.

"Mr. Schiavo has received so much criticism throughout this case that I'm certain there's a part of him that was pleased to hear these results and the hard science behind them," Felos said, in reference to the seven-year-long legal battle over Terri Schiavo’s fate that ensued between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers.

However, in Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that hard science aside, President Bush’s position that Schiavo’s feeding tube should not have been disconnected is unwavering.

McClellan said the president had opposed the removal of her tube because he thinks Americans should “stand on the side of defending…life,” according to AP.

The spokesman added that Bush believes he was right to side with the Schindlers, who wanted to keep their daughter alive.

Meanwhile, Christian pro-lifers, many whom staged rallies to save Schiavo throughout the 13-day ordeal, said the autopsy results do not change the nature of the debate over life.

"If a person's disability can somehow become a crime punishable by death, then we should all be concerned about our future and the future of our posterity,” wrote Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, in a press release. “To allow Terri to be cared for by her loving family would have been to affirm the value of all life, no matter how imperfect. But instead the courts chose to devalue life by ending Terri's, and we are all less safe today because if it."

The autopsy included 274 external and internal body images and a review of Schiavo's medical records, police reports and social services agency records.