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PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - After characterizing the controversy surrounding Terri Schiavo's 2005 starvation and dehydration as "much ado about nothing," Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson has opted not to apologize to Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler — not even during their brief talk on the phone Friday morning.
Nor would Dr. Carson so much as condemn the heavily publicized death Schiavo was forced to undergo after 14 days suffering at the hands of her guardian, the hospital and the state.
ChurchMilitant.com spoke with Schindler, who is now a pro-life advocate for people in situations like his sister's, and after providing some background on Terri's case, he talked about his conversation with Carson, as well as the commotion that's recently unfolded over Carson's "much ado about nothing" remark.
"Obviously, it was troubling," Schindler said.
Not only the original comments, but also Carson's later attempt to settle the issue displayed an inadequate understanding of the problems underlying cases like Schiavo's, said Schindler.
Carson claimed his original comments were simply taken out of context by the media.
As Schindler noted, Carson's response to all the backlash came because pro-lifers had been "asking him for clarity, asking him to please condemn what happened to Terri, and also acknowledging the fact that so many people like Terri are being killed the same way today."
And such a clarification is needed on the part of Dr. Carson "because as a pro-life leader, or someone who claims to be a pro-life leader, we really need him to be clear on these issues — as clear as he is on the abortion issue," stated Schindler.
So far, no such clarification appears to be forthcoming.
Asked about whether, with his blaming of the media, Carson might be merely in damage control mode now, Schindler said, "It's hard to know," while noting how simple it should be to condemn what took place.
"Terri was only receiving a feeding tube. There were no other types of machines keeping her alive, so it wasn't an end-of-life situation, so to speak, where someone is actively dying," he explained. "People like Terri could quite possibly live a normal lifespan, given their situation, so we just wanted Dr. Carson to be clear — as clear as he is on the abortion issue, it seems — that in situations like Terri's we do not take any steps to starve and dehydrate them to death."
So what did Schindler and Carson talk about in their brief phone conversation Friday morning? Schindler mostly just wanted the prominent Republican to understand and clearly condemn an ongoing injustice.
"I just tried to articulate to Dr. Carson, really, the problem we have today and how many people like Terri are being killed on a daily basis, and how families are struggling, trying to provide them the care they need," Schindler said, "and we're seeing more and more that decisions like this are being made by hospitals and ethics committees rather than family members."
And I'm sure Dr. Carson has to know these things, being a neurosurgeon, and fighting this battle now. ... I just wanted to be sure that Dr. Carson knew how much this is happening in our country today, across so many healthcare facilities in our nation, and that we need a strong leader — a strong pro-life leader — that's going to come out and clearly condemn these types of things when it comes to starving and dehydrating people with brain injuries.
"So," Schindler summed up, "Dr. Carson essentially repeated some of the things that he already stated in the media — that he was against euthanasia, and that the media took some of his comments out of context."
On whether Dr. Carson would make a strong pro-life president if elected, Schindler said he isn't sure.
"I don't know if I feel comfortable right now ... with what I've read about what Dr. Carson said about my sister, and our phone conversation," he explained.
Schindler offered that what would help is if Dr. Carson would take the lead in alerting people of the disturbing practice of brain-injured patients being effectively killed in such an appalling way. "I asked Dr. Carson that if he is asked about Terri in the future that he would just please come out and condemn the inhumanity of starving and dehydrating someone to death with a brain injury" — in other words, "to be clear."
"We have to look at this issue. People with brain injuries, as I keep saying — even the elderly, people that are receiving food and hydration through food and water, where it is so easy now to deny it to individuals — we have to look at this with the same urgency as we do with the abortion issue," he urged, "because I think people would be shocked to know on a daily basis how many people who can be cared for, that are not dying, that simply have brain injuries or need feeding tubes, are being killed because of the healthcare system, because of our laws and how they've been changed to make it easier to target these people and to kill them if that decision is made to do so."