FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/31/05

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader and Author-Lawyer Author Wesley J. Smith Call for New Laws to Protect People with Profound Disabilities from Imposed Death


"This is a sad day for the Schindler family and a blot on the history of American jurisprudence," said Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, "we extend our deepest sympathies to the entire Schindler family and thank them for their devotion to Terri and their noble defense of her life"

"As we mourn Terri, we must not let her death be in vain," Nader and Smith added. "Let us harness the positive energy Terri generated in millions of people to engage in democratic reform to ensure that such tragedies never happen again. For example:

  • Extend the protections accorded by The Americans With Disabilites Act, explicitly to the medical sphere.
  • When a family is divided as to the best course of care for a profoundly disabled person, courts should never permit partisan hearsay statements allegedly made in casual conversations to be the legal equivalent of an advance written medical directive, or to qualify for a stateís "clear and convincing" standard of evidence. We should explore the possibility of inserting greater equitable nuance into the law such as, for example, establishing a legal distinction between feeding tubes, supplied food and water, and other forms of medical care.
  • As with the present civil rights and criminal constitutional rights laws, expand the jurisdiction to federal courts for such cases
  • Fiduciary standards for guardianships must be enforced against the conflicts of interest or divided loyalties that emerge over time. State laws should also be amended against these conflicts of interest.

One of the most urgent charges for the courts is to protect the weak and defenseless, such as Terri Schiavo. Instead the state and federal courts in this case collaborated with ending her life. Such travesties must not be repeated again in America.

For more information contact:

Ralph Nader at 202-387-8030

703-683-5004 ext. 132 Kristina for Wesley J Smith, Author of /The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America/, 2001. For more details on the Terri Schiavo case, see www.wesleyjsmith.com

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