Terri Schiavo Event Draws Sarah Palin – and Increased Scrutiny

Print Share on LinkedIn More


Jennifer A. Walz / Shutterstock.com

April 3, 2013; Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

It has been eight years since Terri Schiavo, diagnosed by doctors as being in a persistent vegetative state, died in a Pinellas Park, Florida, hospice after her husband, Michael, got the courts to order the removal of her feeding tube. That was 15 years after she fell into a coma from which she never recovered and seven years after her husband first petitioned the courts. His efforts were opposed by her parents and by her brother, Robert “Bobby” Schindler, who argued that Terri was conscious. Efforts to oppose the termination of life support for Terri Schiavo included legislation that President George W. Bush signed to keep her alive until the courts finally ruled otherwise.

It was one of the saddest public spectacles that many of us can remember, with advocates on all sides of the controversy trampling over the honest feelings of both the parents and the husband. Many of us completely agreed with the husband, the doctors, and the courts that concluded she was alive only due to the feeding equipment, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t understand and sympathize with the parents’ and the brother’s love and hope that any possible movements in her eyes or her limbs meant that somehow she was conscious, regardless of the evidence to the contrary. As the Inquirer summarized the controversy, “Her husband, Michael, said she wouldn’t have wanted to live this way [in a persistent vegetative state]. Her parents and siblings said she would have chosen life, no matter what.”

Her brother and parents, however, created a nonprofit, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, to somehow provide hope and help to families with family members in persistent comas like Terri’s. The Network is certainly growing, with revenues more than doubling from approximately $343,000 in 2010 to $687,000 in 2011, according to the most recently available Form 990 for the organization. The three paid employees of the Network are Schindler, his mother, and his sister. The Inquirer noted that 40 percent of the Network’s revenues were spent on fundraising. The organization also spent $46,000 on travel, according to the 990. Schindler told the Inquirer that he goes to 20 or more events a year. If that is the organization’s travel activity, these are somewhat expensive trips.

One of the Network’s regular fundraising events appears to be a “Terri’s Day” dinner, which this year is scheduled for Friday, April 5, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The attraction is the keynote speaker: former Alaska governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Tickets for the dinner go for $150, though a $25,000 contribution gets the donor a one-on-one meeting with Palin herself. Unfortunately for the Network, no one has been willing to pay that much to spend personal time with the governor.

Notwithstanding the inclusion of Palin on the agenda, there are serious issues involved behind the Network. On one hand, you have some people saying that medical advances have made possible the prognosis for people in vegetative states to regain consciousness for moments due to medications such as Zolpidem, though long-term solutions don’t seem to be in the offing. On the other, there are questions about the cost of keeping people alive in acute-care hospitals, essentially denying beds to other potential patients, as opposed to keeping them at home. Some people question whether the process of keeping patients alive in persistent vegetative states, using often-invasive measures, is actually doing violence to those people.

Nonetheless, despite the serious and heartfelt concerns of people involved in the Schiavo case, and despite Palin’s oft-stated concern for the disabled due to the condition of her youngest child, the inclusion of Palin as the keynote speaker and a $25,000-a-session fundraising ploy seems to take away from the substantive issues that merit thoughtful discussion and debate. –Rick Cohen

  • jason

    Read Sarah Palin’s dirty little secret and try reporting on that.

  • Susan

    Sarah will use this opportunity to raise money for herself and make snarky comments. I don’t listen need to listen to her speak because all she can do is criticize the president. I am not a Real American because i don’t agree with her.

  • sparbanie

    ***the inclusion of Palin as the keynote speaker and a $25,000-a-session fundraising ploy seems to take away from the substantive issues that merit thoughtful discussion and debate.***

    Absolute nonsense. Palin is a powerful, effective speaker with much influence. Her involvement can only help draw attention to the debate and raise funds for the Network.

  • pj

    I used to contributue to this cause, but no more. With Palin as a speaker, they have picked a dishonest, obscene, divisive celebrity representative. Looks like they are grifters like her.

  • Sodakhic

    $46,000, my Rick you must be outraged at the constant campaign events Obama goes to. $46,000 might get AF-1 loaded and on the runway.What happened to the pro choice liberals, isn’t it up to the families? Who are you to tell anyone that their loved one should be kicked out of a bed.

  • Terrence

    Just a chance for Sarah Palin to get media attention and line her bank account. Flies first class and soaks the family for all her expenses. Might as well figure that Sarah does nothing unless it involves a chance for self promotion or a chance to criticize the President. Ironic thing is that she is also bullimic and beginning to look like the walking skeleton that Terri had become.

  • KarenJ

    What is it with you Palinistas – always the false equivalencies with Palin vs. the President? Isn’t she just a hockey mom from little ol’ Wasilla, the meth capital of Alaska?

    BTW, Palin’s adopted DS son gets free health care because they CLAIM that he’s got native Alaskan (aboriginal) blood in his veins (although there’s no way to verify that because Palin had the family’s records sealed before she quit her job as governor). In other words, he’s a “taker”. Others with disabilities aren’t so fortunate, and up to Obamacare, sometimes even if they had insurance, the insurance company didn’t always pay for care.

  • Patricia

    Do you know that Sarah is Not the President never will be more than a loud mouth with a bumpit and mile high shoes….and what does Obama have to do with this anyway??

  • W.S.

    It figures. Braindead speaks for brain dead.

  • brbr2424

    Just doing some simple math here, at $150 a ticket it would take 167 tickets sold to cover the cost of Palin’s speaking fee. Then there is the cost of the dinner and the venue. I would not be surprised if this event had a net loss. In Palin’s heyday, several charities were burned by their own delusions of grandeur and poor math skills. At least Palin’s fee is down to $25k and not $100k.Would they have been better off to just have unpaid local entertainment and not had the speaking expense?

  • jkarov

    Paylin has zero chance of getting elected even to the Congress. Her ignorance, failed interviews, and quitting as governor, and perpetual tease guarantees her nothing more than D list celebrity.

    I was utterly amazed at her ignorance when she was asked on live television , ” What does the Vice President do”?
    She got the answer 100% wrong,

    She said that the VP gets in there to make laws, and is in charge of the US Senate, and can help make policy!!!
    The VP’s only job is to break ties, and replace the President.
    The VP can’t “If she wants to, get in there and help make laws”

    This breathtaking level of absolute ignorance in a person running for the 2nd highest office in the land revealed exactly what a vapid and uneducated sham she really was.

    Watch for yourself:


  • dee

    Schiavo was brain dead, her brain liquified.

    Palin is a grifter, a shrill for the RTLer, bagger community who screeches talking points only. Like feeding chum to sharks.

  • Sandra

    Reports by those present send there was very low attendance and with paying Sarah’s speaking fee and travel expenses and the cost of the room, there was no profit. Nobody paid the $25,000 fee to spend time with Sister Sarah. Sarah wore her red-white-and blue expensive jewelry and made stale jokes–hard to laugh at her Big Gulp cups at the head table and talking about sugary drinks when everyone knows that Terri was bullemic and Sarah Palin has similar problems right now. Not really laughing matters or time to make political jokes and criticize Obama. Cannot use stale canned speeches from four years ago on the people of Philadelphia. When Sarah made her joke about God doesn’t sit in parked cars everyone whispered that He also doesn’t like people think it is classy to be known as the Queen of Mean or the Queen of Grifters. The people who attended gave a warmer reception to the priest from the Catholic Church (who wasn’t on the Speaker’s High Fee List) than they did from the paid cheerleader who spends no time with her own special needs child but exploits him in her messages of self promotion. People of Pennsylvania are not very fond of paid speakers pretending that they know what Terri Schiavo really wanted.

  • Carlton West

    Meeting Gov. Sarah Palin would be a great honor & privilege. She is bold, brilliant, beautiful, chic, charming, & charismatic.

  • CSmith

    Please tell me what Palin added to the discussion? She has not added to any discussion in 5 years.
    Terri no longer had a life and now she is at peace.

  • nolaredhead

    Personally, I find it disgusting that she brought up her son, Trig, during her Schiavo speech. Especially considering how World DS Day was last week and she didn’t say one word of recognition about it. I’m sure the organization would have loved someone with her “high profile” drawing much needed attention to a good cause. At the very least, she could’ve written one of her Facebook screeds about the “difficulties of raising a special needs child”. I can’t believe she passed up on the chance to get a little sympathy and draw attention to herself yet again…Or was it because she wasn’t PAID??

    She sure did set a speed record on responding to that race car driver who “dissed her” though didn’t she??

    That’s because Saint Sarah doesn’t do NICE. And she certainly doesn’t do it for FREE.

    But she’ll do nasty all day long. And so will her “fans”….

  • Hillary

    Sarah Palin and her staff are desperately trying to re-write history. Breitbart News version has the room packed–those who were actually there and are not on Palin’s staff state that the event was sparsely attended and that they tried to fill the seats by having the volunteers from the catholic schools and even security fill the empty seats. Many people feel that the choice of a speaker was poor–Sarah Palin invited the Brother to come to her personal radio station in Alaska to talk about Terri and the Foundation; then the Palins jet off to an all expenses paid trip to Pennsylvania to return the favor. Both families of grifters win–get free publicity and time in the limelight and a chance to have a free vacation. Kudos go to the Archbishop-at least he wasn’t financially profitting from the death of a bullimic. Instead of making this the Sarah Palin Show and what a fantastic absentee mother she is for her special needs children, maybe they should have chosen a person who would be stressing the importance of making your final wishes known, giving someone your life directive or power of attorney, dangers of bulemia, etc. Instead, this dinner was more like two families comparing notes to see how they can get the most donations from the attendees and glorifying the importance of looking thin at all costs. The audience could see the elephant in the room that the speaker/sponsors wanted to ignore–this should not have been a political bashing; this was not about Obamacare and death care–and Terri Schiavo was not the innocent victim that Palin described. Very shallow thinking by both the Palins and the Foundation.

  • Dee

    Amen. The words “Sarah Palin” and “president” should not even be in the same sentence.

    That is, unless the sentence is, “Sarah Palin will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be president.”

    Her time has come and passed. Her dwindling fan base needs to come to terms with that.

    And, yes, President Obama gets to do things that Sarah Palin never will. Because he’s the PRESIDENT.

  • Common Sense

    judging by Rick’s constant vitriol against any Republican or Conservative and the sheeple posting mean and ignorant things about Sarah Palin — I don’t find it at all surprising that this article is another idiotic attempt by Rick Cohen to vilify anything that is not liberal or demoncratic related.

    Obama has not stopped campaigning and using our tax dollars to fund senseless trips to promote his Marxist agenda, has no problem spending millions of our tax dollars vacationing, flying two planes costing $100,000+ per hour to take him and his family to the same place — we need to call our Sarah Palin.

    This is a PATHETIC article. And the comments are equally pathetic. Our country is falling down with the lack of intelligence, lack of leadership and lack of competence of this current corrupt administration and president (with a small “p”) and we are devoting anger toward Sarah Palin. Aren’t liberals all about peace, love and equality? Unbelievable.

    Come on — bring on the thumbs down because anyone who disagrees with liberals is villified…..

  • Kate

    Yes, it IS up to the families. And Terry Schiavo left her parents and formed a family with her husband, who, after valiant efforts to reverse her coma and then becoming a nurse in order to care for her, concluded that she was gone, his beautiful wife was lost to him forever. Her brain, on autopsy, was essentially liquefied. She was a body with no mind. There was no chance whatsoever for her to recover.
    Her family, which is to say, her husband, made the choice. This is consistent with the pro-choice agenda. Had she still been unmarried, then her parents would have made the choice. You people love the constitution, and the laws we base on it, until it reveals how hypocritical you really are.

  • Kate

    At CPAC, after she was introduced, she walked to this side of the podium and then that side, and struck profile poses in her knit sweater so the silly men in the audience could admire her bustline. That is the only reason some men wanted to vote for her. They think she is attractive. She might be attractive if she did not have such a self-centered and greedy personality. I find that quite unappealing and it impacts the whole appearance.

    The fact that she did not appear personally for World Down Syndrome day is telling.

  • kate

    No, Sarah Palin is not brilliant. She is charming to people who like mean people. She ran for a position that was way over her head, and when she lost, she blamed the media. That is not at all charming. She did not know the job description for VP of the USA, the job she was seeking at the time. She thought Africa was a country, for Pete’s sake. Her ignorance is quite shocking actually.

  • KarenM

    you mean the adopted one?