Every year, I write to honor my sister, Terri Schiavo, on March 31st, the anniversary of her death, and reflect on the state of our nation when it comes to the treatment of our medically vulnerable.

For those who do not remember, Terri, at the age of 26, experienced a still unexplained collapse while at home alone with her husband, Michael Schiavo, which resulted in a severe brain injury. Despite widespread characterizations that suggested she was near death in the years after her injury, Terri was not dying, and did not suffer from any life-threatening disease. She was neither on machines, nor was she “brain dead.”

Sadly, after a few years of caring for Terri, Michael, who was Terri’s guardian, lost interest in his brain injured, but otherwise healthy, young wife, and eventually petitioned the courts for permission to deliberately starve and dehydrate her to death.

On the order of Judge George W. Greer, Terri was deprived of water and food, and after 13 days, she died on March 31st, 2005 of severe dehydration.

We commemorate “Terri’s Day” each spring to honor her memory and pray for all of our medically vulnerable brothers and sisters. This year, EWTN is commemorating “Terri’s Day” on April 7th through an internationally televised mass with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, followed by a special interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, the Archbishop, and me.

The Network’s Impact

In response to Terri’s death, my family established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network to advocate for medically vulnerable persons. Since the Network’s founding, we’ve been honored to have helped more than 2,500 patients and families access the advocates and resources they need to fight in their time of crisis.

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