updated 4/1/2005 9:30:01 AM ET 2005-04-01T14:30:01

Guest: Jay Sekulow, Geoffrey Fieger, Frank Pavone, Scott Schiavo, D. James Kennedy, Deepak Chopra, Paul O‘Donnell, Bernadine Healy, Mike Barnicle, Tony Perkins, David Pollak, Daniel Spitz, David Simon

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  You are looking at a live picture of Vatican City, where Pope John Paul II may be approaching the end of his life, as one senior cardinal said earlier. 

And tonight, a man who led one billion Catholics for more than a quarter of a century and whose leadership helped sparked the solidarity movement in Poland in 1981 and who was a key player in bringing down the Soviet empire may be on his final days.  On the day that reports surfaced that linked the Soviet KGB to the failed 1981 assassination attempt on the pope‘s life, we are receiving reports tonight that the pope may be suffering through his final struggle. 

Good evening and welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I‘m Joe Scarborough.  Thanks for being with us tonight. 

Now, of course, we are going to be talking about that story, going to be checking in with you throughout the night on any developments in the breaking story.

But, of course, the other big story we are following is, of course, the nation mourning Terri Schiavo. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s our understanding through David Gibbs that Terri has passed away.  The family will make a public statement sometime today.  Thank you. 


SCARBOROUGH:  She died this morning at 9:02 and what followed was an outpouring of emotion.  We are going to be looking at everything that happened today, in the past, and also look ahead.  Terri‘s body is now with the medical examiner.  What can the autopsy tell us about these past 15 years?  Will it end the debate once and for all?  We are going to have experts here to explain that part of the story. 

We are also going to be talking to spiritual guru Deepak Chopra and also evangelist Dr. D. James Kennedy about Terri‘s spiritual legacy. 

Of course, Terri has got to be the topic for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”  You know, the time that I have been in Congress and a member of the media, about a decade now, I have never worked on a story that has had the personal impact of Terri Schiavo‘s fight for life.  Why is that?  You know, we know thousands have died in Iraq and in the Afghanistan war.  But no single death has seemed to draw Americans‘ intentions to their TV sets like Terri‘s; 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on September 11, but, you know, I can‘t really think of a single victim from that epic day whose death came close to grabbing the attention that Terri has garnered over the past few weeks. 

You probably would have to go back to the death of maybe John Lennon to find a person who wasn‘t a president or princess whose passing stirred such interest.  So, again, I ask why.  What was it about Terri‘s life-and-death struggle that divided families, political parties, and religious leaders? 

I would like to be able to explain that to you.  You know, that this story got me more emotionally involved than any other political election or vote that I ever took in Congress, I would like to be able to explain it, but I can‘t.  I do have a few guesses, though.  First, of course, the president‘s involvement in this case earlier this month got the forces of the left involved in a very personal way.  And, of course, then there‘s Tom DeLay‘s involvement. 

You know, liberals dislike the Texas congressman in a way not seen since, well, since George Bush or Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter or Mel Gibson or anybody else with whom they disagree.  Now, add to the checklist the fact that evangelicals and pro-life communities got involved, and the right to death communities got involved.  And, suddenly, it seemed inevitable that a political gangland war was just waiting to happen. 

You know, my wife, Susan, commented this morning that the real tragedy of Terri‘s case—and I will tell you, she was really shaken after she learned that she died, but she said the real tragedy of this case was the fact that Terri Schiavo seemed to be a very shy, unassuming woman, who would have hated to get the kind of attention that was thrown on her life in the last few weeks that she was on this Earth. 

Now, I explained to Susan the there was a bigger issue involved here, that the government was allowing the killing of a young, helpless woman without clear and convincing evidence, but Susan just stared at me as if to say, I was completely missing her point.  And, sadly, I think Susan‘s point has been lost on most of us, even those of us who were fighting for Terri‘s life because of the way she died. 

You know, this has been a tragedy for all concerned, for everybody concerned.  But, on this day, when the debate starts to wind down, I think it‘s critical that we take my wife‘s advice, that we stop and remember the young woman who was caught in the middle of an ugly political fight that was not of her own choosing.  Goodbye, Terri.  And you know, you deserved better from all of us, myself included. 

As she has been all week, MSNBC‘s Lisa Daniels been in Florida outside the hospice center that was the home of Terri Schiavo, until she passed away earlier this morning and watched again as a human tragedy devolved into a bitter family fight that touched off a cultural earthquake that shook the foundations of Congress, the White House, and the American legal system. 

Now, to get insight on where the story is tonight and where it‘s going next, let‘s go to Lisa Daniels right now in Florida. 

Lisa, get us up to date. 


Well, if you look at your clock, it is 13 hours, almost to the minute, since Terri Schiavo has passed away.  And if we can take this shot of the protesters to my left, you can see how many of them are still here.  They have been here literally for days, if not weeks, from all over the country, and if anything, Joe, this crowd has grown over the last few hours. 

Now, many of them earlier today went to a memorial service at a church just a few miles away.  We didn‘t know if the family of Terri Schiavo was going to appear, but, as you see from the video, Bob Schindler, Terri Schiavo‘s father, did come.  He thanked his supporters.  He thanked people for keeping Terri Schiavo in their prayers, and said that Terri thanks them as well. 

Now, this morning, lots of news conferences, lots of statements, Joe.  I‘m going to highlight some of the more important ones.  We did hear some very strong words from Father Frank Pavone.  He is the spiritual adviser to the Schindlers.  Among his statements this morning, he called Michael Schiavo and the judges that heard the case murderers. 

I spoke to Father Pavone later, Joe, and I asked, do you regret what

you said?  And he said, no, I am one of the few people that speaks candidly

and openly.  Hours later, we finally got to hear members from the Schiavo

camp.  We heard from attorney George Felos, Michael Schiavo‘s attorney, and

he singled out Father Pavone‘s statements.  He said that they were—quote

·         “filled with venom, inappropriate, and uncalled for.”

And he also reiterated what Michael Schiavo‘s actions have been throughout this whole thing, that he is really just fighting for Terri Schiavo, to allow her to die in dignity.  I think we have a statement from him.  Let‘s play it. 

GEORGE FELOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL SCHIAVO:  Mr. Schiavo‘s overriding concern here was to provide for Terri a peaceful death with dignity.  And I emphasize it, because this death was not for the siblings and not for the spouse and not for the parents. 

This was for Terri. 


DANIELS:  Now, less than two hours later, we heard from Terri Schiavo‘s sister and brother, Bobby and Suzanne.  We thought that they would start to refute the statements that George Felos made earlier, especially the timeline of events that happened right after Terri Schiavo died.  Instead, they simply thanked supporters, thanked them for their prayers, and said that their sister thanks them as well. 

This is a statement from Bobby Schindler. 


BOBBY SCHINDLER, BROTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  As a member of our family, unable to stand under your own power, you stood with a grace and a dignity, a dignity that made your family proud.  Terri, we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do.  We must accept your untimely death as God‘s will. 


DANIELS:  Finally, a note about funeral arrangements.  We may see an ongoing dispute.

As you know, the Schiavos, Michael Schiavo, wants to cremate Terri‘s body and bury it at a family plot outside Philadelphia.  Of course, the Schindlers oppose that.  They want to bury her in tradition with the Roman Catholic traditions, and they want to bury her just a couple of miles from where I am standing now. 

Just a personal note, Joe.  There really is an eerie silence here.  All week long, we have heard this drum beating.  I think I have mentioned it to you before.  People have manned that drum 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They have been taking turns out here.  And that drumbeat, which was supposed to represent Terri‘s heart, is now silent—back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Lisa.  We greatly appreciate it. 

And you know, last night, you and I were bemoaning the fact that, for the past 10 days, we have only heard from one side of this heartbreaking story, for the most part.  The Schindlers provided family spokesmen, priests, attorneys, family members and other conduits to the press concerning this story, and of course, any story that only allows you to hear one side of it is difficult at best to judge. 

Tonight, we are glad to have with us by phone the brother of Michael Schiavo, Scott Schiavo, to talk about this personal tragedy from the viewpoint of a husband who loved her so much, of course, talking about Michael. 

Scott, thanks for joining us. 

And let‘s begin by talking about your brother and your family.  We have heard about the emotions that the Schindlers have been going through.  What is the Schiavo family going through tonight emotionally right now? 

SCOTT SCHIAVO, BROTHER OF MICHAEL SCHIAVO:  Well, right now, we are just, you know, reflecting on, you know, Terri‘s life. 

We are just—it‘s been a very emotional day, and we have all been, you know, touched deeply with, you know, the person in our life which was Terri, and it‘s just been a very rough, emotional day. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about the woman who died today, not the politics, not the legal side of it, not the political or cultural side of it.  Talk about Terri Schiavo.  Tell us something about this woman that we wouldn‘t know by listening to all the debates that have been going on for the past two weeks. 

SCHIAVO:  Terri was a very, very sweet, loving person.  She had an unbelievable love for animals.  She had a smile that, you know, just was from ear to ear. 

She had this giggle that we can still hear, and she was just a wonderful, wonderful person.  And it‘s just it‘s a shame.  This whole this is a shame.  And I just—I just feel good that I believe that she is now at peace, and that she has—she has got all of her dignity back, and she has got that smile back.  And I just—you know, we all feel the same, that, you know, she is the Terri that we all knew and loved once again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you know what Michael‘s last words to her as she lay dying this morning? 

SCHIAVO:  I don‘t know the exact last words, but I know that he held her in his arms, and he told her he loved her, and that, you know that he fulfilled the promise. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, there was a little fight afterwards regarding her final minutes.  Can you explain to us tonight why Michael didn‘t want to have Terri‘s brother and sister there in those final minutes?  What was the reasoning behind that? 

SCHIAVO:  See, this is the thing that upsets me, and this is what this whole thing has been going on for years about. 

This had nothing to do with Michael.  Michael wasn‘t even in the room.  Michael—they came to Mike at 7:00 this morning and asked him if they can come in and visit Terri, and Mike said, no problem.  Mike left the room, let them come into the room.  And at quarter of 8:00 -- I‘m sorry, quarter of 9:00, -- the hospice people said to Mike that he should come now because it was very, very close. 

And Mike asked, were the Schindlers here?  And they said, well, he was.  Bobby and them were, but they just had to, you know, ask them to leave because they wanted to do an assessment of Terri and they asked them to leave the room while they did it, and Bobby wouldn‘t leave.  And they asked him kindly, and then the police officer asked him.  And he got into an altercation with the police officer and he had to be escorted out. 

Mike had absolutely no idea of this, did not know this was happening. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that‘s why we are glad that you came on tonight to tell the other side of this story. 

Final question, has your family received death threats through this whole process? 

SCHIAVO:  Oh, yes.  In fact, I must have received six of them today.  And then, plus, I received a lovely call from a gentleman from Texas that is probably about 10, 11 minutes long on my cell phone.

And, you know, it‘s just—it‘s people out there, they have nothing else to do.  They don‘t—they have no other business, nothing else to do but get in other people‘s business.  And this is the whole problem with this whole issue.  Nobody—they don‘t know the facts.  And, you know, I guess you can partially blame Mike, because Mike didn‘t want to come out.  Mike didn‘t want to make—so he tried everything he could to keep it from becoming a circus, and he just wanted to make this a personal, private matter.  And it‘s turned into something outrageous, and it‘s just a shame. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Michael—well, thank you so much.  We will have to leave it there, Scott.  We greatly appreciate you being with us. 

We‘ll be right back.

SCHIAVO:  You‘re quite welcome. 


SCARBOROUGH:  When we come back, we are going to continue talking about Terri Schiavo‘s death and also her life.  That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.




SCARBOROUGH:  As I said earlier, the controversy surrounding Terri Schiavo continued right up until the final minutes of her life.  Father Frank Pavone was there with Terri‘s family, and he says Michael‘s actions this morning were just not right. 

This is a short clip of a press conference he gave earlier today. 


FATHER FRANK PAVONE, SCHINDLER FAMILY SUPPORTER:  Bobby Schindler, her brother, said, we want to be in the room when she dies.  Michael Schiavo said, no, you cannot.  And so his heartless cruelty continues until this very last moment. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Right now, we have got Father Frank Pavone with us live tonight. 

Father, I don‘t know if you heard Scott Schiavo talking with us earlier, but he actually said that it wasn‘t Michael that tried to get Bobby Schindler out of the room, that it was the police officers that pulled him out there because they needed to do some medical procedures, or at least tend to her medically. 

PAVONE:  Exactly.  Let me tell you exactly what happened. 

Michael was nowhere to be seen.  We were in the room.  We had been in the room for about an hour and a half, and the hospice indeed said it‘s time for assessment.  After we came out of the room, they also said, Michael has said he is now going to make visitation.  Now, put this in context.  Bobby and I were up with each other all night long, because our last visit finished just after midnight, and Michael then came after that. 

Bobby said, please let me know when Michael‘s visit is finished.  I want to go back, and 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, up to 7:00 in the morning, they were still saying, no, no visitors.  And Bobby was saying, when is he going to let me back in?  Seven thirty, we finally got back in.

So, this time, when they said, Michael is making another visit, Bobby said, well, wait a minute, I don‘t want another six hours to go by without him letting me back in, because my sister is going to be dead.  So the proposal was, Bobby said to the police officer—and I was standing there right with him—could you please ask Michael if it‘s OK for me to be in the room with him when he comes?

So, it wasn‘t Michael that kicked us out of the room.  It was Michael who said, no, you can‘t be in the room when I am in the room.  And that got Bobby very upset, because Terri was obviously in her last moments.  So, Bobby said, well, you mean I am not going to be able to be here when she dies?  And, obviously, as any of us would be, he was very upset, because of what had just happened during the long hours of the night, when he was kept out of there for six or seven hours. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Father, you can understand.  Yes, it‘s been going on, but, Father, you can understand, though, obviously, we have had Bobby on our show.  We also had his sister on this show, and both of them seemed to suggest that Michael may have been responsible for Terri going into a coma.  Can you understand why Michael Schiavo might not want those people in the same room with him in his wife‘s final hours? 

PAVONE:  Yes, I respect that. 

Obviously, this dispute between the families has been going on for a long time.  It‘s very deep.  It‘s very emotional.  These are simply the facts of what happened this morning.  And, you know, right or wrong, that is how it unfolded. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Father, how is the family doing right now?  How are the Schindlers, how is Terri‘s mother, father, sister, brother handling this terrible tragedy tonight? 

PAVONE:  I was over with them at their house for several hours this

afternoon, all the relatives.  They got a bite to eat, and they were just -

·         they were just exhausted. 

The mom stayed home after that, and just to get some rest.  Dad and Bobby and Susan were, again, here this evening, but have not been doing interviews.  They are doing remarkably well, but certainly exhausted and tired.  Their faith is very strong, and they are going to continue Terri‘s legacy now, advocating for those who are in situations similar to hers. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, Father.  We appreciate it.  And, please, let the Schindlers know that our prayers are with them tonight, obviously, prayers with Terri Schiavo‘s family, whether it‘s the Schiavos or the Schindlers, a tragedy, again, as I have said for absolutely everybody. 

You know, there are quite a few people out there, many, many Americans

·         in fact, if you see the latest Fox poll, the majority of Americans believe that the death of Terri Schiavo was merciful.  Others believe that it was a black eye on our American judicial system. 

Of course, Dr. Jack Kevorkian‘s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, does believe the death was the result of merciful court decisions.  He joins us tonight.  And, also, we‘ve got Jay Sekulow of the American Center For Law and Justice. 

I appreciate both of you all being here tonight. 


Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s start with you, Geoffrey. 

Talk about the events that have unfolded and that have left us here when—I mean, let‘s just be blunt about it.  Again, regardless of what side you are on, and I think most Americans are on your side, the bottom line is, the courts‘ actions led to the starvation and dehydration of Terri Schiavo.  Is this something we should be happy about? 

GEOFFREY FIEGER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  The courts‘ actions led to an upholding of the rule of law, the constitutional process. 

What is so frightening, Joe, is that, at the behest of religious group, the Republican majority in the Congress...


SCARBOROUGH:  What religious group? 

FIEGER:  The religious group that believes that Terri Schiavo‘s life, that they own Terri Schiavo‘s life, the right to life. 


SCARBOROUGH:  What, like Christians, evangelicals?  What religious group? 

FIEGER:  Yes, the evangelical, the religious right in the United States, was able to manipulate the Republican majority in the House and the Senate and the president of the United States to perform what the courts have held was essentially an unconstitutional attempt to usurp the Constitution and the laws of the United States. 

Now, I couldn‘t have said it better.  The 11th Circuit, which is one of the most conservative circuits in the entire country, and the judge appointed by President Bush‘s own father said that essentially what they attempted to do was usurp the laws and the constitutional processes of the United States. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Geoffrey, let me read that to the American people. 


FIEGER:  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We have got the 11th Circuit wording right here.  And I want to talk about it. 

It says—this is what the 11th Circuit said I believe yesterday afternoon: “Lawmakers have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers‘ blueprint for the governance of a free people, our Constitution.”

Jay Sekulow, when I saw that, I thought the 11th Circuit tipped their hand.  I always believed this wasn‘t about life or death, Terri Schiavo or Michael Schiavo.  I always thought it was about the court protecting their power from a legislative encroachment.  What say you? 

SEKULOW:  Well, I wish you would quote the dissent.  That was a President Clinton appointee that said , if anything has happened in the case, that is that Terri Schiavo‘s due process rights were violated. 

Now, look, we have got the death of a woman and a family that is in grief.  And we need to respect that.  But I think, if you look at it from a legal standpoint, where Geoff and I, I think, vehemently disagree, is on was the right standard applied in the first place. 

Now, granted, Geoff‘s view carried the day in the courts.  I agree with the dissent, obviously.  And that was that, at a minimum, there should have been another look at this.  But that‘s not what the courts held.  But I thought due process demanded it.  This was the unique situation here.  You had a guardian, and the was the husband, who had in essence a common law wife and another family. 

And no disparaging to that other family or the wife, but the fact was, how could he be looking out for Terri‘s best interest when he had another interest, his family, to look out for?  And that was I think what made this case so unique and perhaps is what galvanized the attention here.

And I think, look, I want to answer that religious right question.  I can‘t imagine...


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s always the religious right‘s fault, by the way, Jay.

SEKULOW:  Yes, it‘s always—and I have never heard of Jesse Jackson as part of the religious right, and he‘s been one of the most eloquent spokesmen on this issue, and certainly not part of the religious right. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Same with Ralph Nader.  Same with Ralph Nader.  Same with Nat Hentoff with “The Village Voice.”  Same with Tom Harkin.  You can‘t say, Geoffrey Fieger, that this cuts down political lines right and left.  I know a lot of liberals out there that are very disturbed by what‘s been going on over the past two, three weeks. 

FIEGER:  Well, they may very well be, but I can assure you that the actions, the political actions, taken in Congress were not taken on behalf of Jesse Jackson or Ralph Nader. 

Let me make another point, too.  And I think that your last guest, Scott Schiavo, really pointed it out.  The coverage has been so tainted because of almost the hysteria, the circus-like atmosphere created by the Schindlers, to make people believe or to let people believe that Michael Schiavo is acting in some other interest, other than the love of his wife. 


SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re fighting for their daughter‘s life, though. 

Don‘t you understand?

FIEGER:  Well, excuse me.

SCARBOROUGH:  If somebody were trying to force your daughter or your son to be starved to death or dehydrated, you would fight for their life too, wouldn‘t you? 

FIEGER:  Let me point out to you what was really going on.  That identical situation, as I told you before, happened in the Nancy Cruzan case that set the law of this country in 1990. 

However, it wasn‘t the parents fighting against the husband.  It was a nurse who saw the light of God in Nancy Cruzan‘s eyes and fought against the parents.  Wait a second. 

SEKULOW:  But that‘s not this case.


FIEGER:  Wait a second.  It is this case, because...

SEKULOW:  No.  This case is...

FIEGER:  .You have a disagreement between the family members. 


SEKULOW:  You don‘t have a living will.  And you had a husband who has another family.  And you have to look at all those factors. 

FIEGER:  You can‘t. 

SEKULOW:  Of course you can. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Why can‘t you?  We are talking about a guardianship here.  This guy, Michael Schiavo, and I have said all along, it‘s his business if he wanted to move on.  And nobody has faulted him for that. 

FIEGER:  There‘s not a scintilla of evidence.

SCARBOROUGH:  If he wanted to move on, if he wanted to move on, have a girlfriend, eventually a wife, start a new family, certainly, that was his business. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Nobody would fault him for that, but why do you keep that person as Terri‘s guardian? 

SEKULOW:  As the guardian.

FIEGER:  There‘s not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that he didn‘t love his wife, that he didn‘t care about his wife and that he wasn‘t carrying out her wishes.


SCARBOROUGH:  That has nothing to do with it.

SEKULOW:  Wait a minute.  Geoff, Geoff, you are a very good lawyer.  Let me ask you this question.  If there was a miracle in the case, medically speaking, and Terri would have been in a point where had communicative capability, she could communicate, she was in a much better state, what would Michael Schiavo have done then with his existing family and Terri Schiavo? 


SEKULOW:  So, that shows you there‘s no way that Michael could have been really a guardian looking out for her interests. 


SEKULOW:  And you know what?  At the end of the day, this case was really a disabilities rights case.  It wasn‘t a right to die case.  It wasn‘t a right to life case.


FIEGER:  Nonsense. 

SEKULOW:  Sure, it was. 

FIEGER:  That‘s a major misrepresentation. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on one second.

I have had leaders on this point, Geoffrey Fieger, from disability groups that have actually talked to me, have been on my show, this show and my radio show, saying that they were offended to be grouped in with the religious right.  They didn‘t care about the religious right.  They were fighting for their rights as disabled Americans.  Doesn‘t this endanger their legal status? 


FIEGER:  Absolutely not.  Terri Schiavo is essentially brain-dead. 


FIEGER:  She has no electrical activity.  Please, let me finish. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You have said that before. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second. 


FIEGER:  There‘s no electrical activity in her brain. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me just get this out here and I will let you respond to you.  And I am glad you brought this up. 

The court appointed—in the medical hearing, in the medical hearing, they appointed five neurologists to go in there to examine the condition.  Three of those neurologists said that she was in a persistent vegetative state.  Two of the neurologists said, no, she wasn‘t, that she could be rehabilitated.  How do you allow—well, how do you conclude, when it‘s 3-2 split, that this lady is in a persistent vegetative state, she is brain-dead, and she should just die? 


FIEGER:  It wasn‘t a 3-2 split.  And let me explain to you.

SEKULOW:  It was. 

FIEGER:  The EEG shows no electrical activity.  She would be the first person in modern medical science who had no electrical activity and yet could be rehabilitated.  Secondly...

SCARBOROUGH:  Then why did two court-appointed neurologists say that she could be rehabilitated?


FIEGER:  Let me finish.  The CAT scans of the MRI of her brain show that essentially her cerebral cortex has been liquefied.  She would be the first person in medical science. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Geoffrey, I cannot let you continue misrepresenting the facts. 

FIEGER:  I am not misrepresenting the facts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The facts, in the court record, in 1996, they had a scan of Terri‘s brain. 

In 2002, another scan of Terri‘s brain.  A radiologist testified to the court that the 2002 scan showed a normalcy that the 1996 scan did not, and testified in court, and it‘s part of the court records, that she was improving from ‘96 to 2002.  Now, go ahead and talk about the scans. 

FIEGER:  She was in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. 


SCARBOROUGH:  According to three of five neurologists. 


FIEGER:  She had contractures.  She never made any improvement.  Every action that they attributed to her perceptive ability, which was blinking of the eyes, making involuntary noises and tracking with her eyes, are capable of people who are only operating out of the brain stem.


SCARBOROUGH:  Jay, Jay, OK, here‘s my biggest problem with this case, and it all comes down to the medical testimony. 

Judge Greer appointed five neurologists to look at this case, to figure out, again, gave her parents another chance to prove that she wasn‘t in a persistent vegetative state.  I don‘t care what anybody says.  The facts are, five were appointed.  They looked at her.  They examined her.  Three of the five said she was in persistent vegetative state.  Two of the five neurologists said, no, she wasn‘t, and she could be rehabilitated. 

FIEGER:  Rehabilitated to what? 


SCARBOROUGH:  That frightens me. 

SEKULOW:  Those were court-appointed. 


FIEGER:  Excuse me.  That was 10 years ago.  What happened in the last 10 years?

SEKULOW:  Nothing.  That‘s the problem, and no due process in the process...


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Geoffrey.  We have let you talk, Geoffrey. 

FIEGER:  No, you haven‘t. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, and we are getting some facts out that you don‘t want the American people to hear. 

SEKULOW:  Right. 

FIEGER:  Excuse me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let Jay—let Jay have his turn. 



SEKULOW:  Here‘s the problem with this. 

The medical evidence, let‘s say it‘s in dispute.  You have to, in a situation like that, side on caution.  What does caution say?  Certainly, it says side on the caution of letting this woman not starve to death.  That‘s No. 1.  And, No. 2, look, whether you like the federal statute or not, the court was supposed to take another look, just like in a death penalty case, and the court gave it a wink and nod in an hour and a half hearing and never pursued what they were required to do by Congress. 

That‘s the tragedy of this and that‘s the due process. 


FIEGER:  That‘s simply not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Geoffrey, respond.

FIEGER:  And you had 10 years from that 1996 examination that you claim was a split decision, which it wasn‘t. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t claim.  It‘s the facts, three out of five. 

FIEGER:  There has never been any change in her.  What you ask the American public to believe is, this woman had absolute—had perception, was aware of what was going on?


SCARBOROUGH:  I am not asking the American people to believe anything, Geoffrey. 

FIEGER:  That‘s not true.

SCARBOROUGH:  I am stating the facts of the case.  Two of the five neurologists say she could be rehabilitated.  You said that was 10 years ago. 

FIEGER:  What happened?

SCARBOROUGH:  In 2002, a radiologist testified before the court that her brain scan showed improvement, marked improvement from a 1996 brain scan. 

FIEGER:  Now, I will also tell you this.

SCARBOROUGH:  These are the facts of the case.  They are not in dispute. 


FIEGER:  Here are the facts also.  And I am not changing the subject.  But here are the facts also, that people who want to end their suffering, for instance in Oregon, people who said to Kevorkian...

SEKULOW:  Well, you are changing the subject. 

FIEGER:  Let me—no, I‘m not. 

SEKULOW:  Except you are. 

FIEGER:  Let me end my suffering, the religious right also said, no, you can‘t have an injection.  You can‘t take the pills.  You got to take out your the feeding tube.  You got to turn off your respirator.  And these same people now are saying, what a horrendous thing it is that we took out the tube of Terri Schiavo. 


SEKULOW:  Look, if there‘s a case where you had written declaration or living will, that‘s one thing.  But you have got so many conflicts of interests apparent here.


FIEGER:  Wait.  If you had a living will, would you allow her to have an injection, rather than take out her feeding tube?  Would you?  Answer that question. 


FIEGER:  Answer that question.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s against the law.  That is another issue completely. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Jay Sekulow, I want to back again, the most troubling part of this case, again, Jay, I will say it again, the medical testimony is murky at best.  We have been trotting people out here.  And this is what disturbs me the most. 

FIEGER:  What is this—Joe, Joe... 


SCARBOROUGH:  Let me finish what I am saying. 

People that support Terri Schiavo dying the way she did will come out and say, everybody knows that she was brain-dead.  All the medical testimony says that.  On the other side, people will come out and say, she was playing hopscotch when we went in to see her.  She was clapping her hands.  She was raising her hands. 

FIEGER:  Yes, except, Joe...


SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of ridiculous assertions.


SCARBOROUGH:  Please, let me finish.  The fact is, it wasn‘t clear-cut. 

SEKULOW:  That‘s the problem. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In fact, it was very murky. 

And, yet, this is what disturbs me.  Both sides are coming out, trying to make a political point here.  The bottom line is, it was murky.

And I am just concerned, Jay Sekulow, in a case where the medical testimony was not clear-cut.  This woman died because we didn‘t err on the side of life, my biggest concern.

Jay, respond. 

SEKULOW:  And I think that is the legitimate concern.  That‘s been my concern with this case from the outset, in that, in a situation where you had conflicting evidence, and if you take all the hysteria on both sides of it and looked at the evidence, it was a 3-2 case, medically speaking. 

And even if it was a 4-2, which it wasn‘t—it was 3-2 -- but even if it was more, don‘t you have to be cautious there and shouldn‘t have the federal courts followed through and taken another look at that?  And I think that‘s the tragedy of this.

I will tell you one other thing, Joe, really quick.  And that is, I think one thing the American people have learned about this—and maybe Geoff will agree with me on this—federal judges do matter, and it does make a difference who serves on the branch.  And it shows that the coequal branch of government, the federal courts, really do have a lot of power. 

FIEGER:  So the litmus test for judges now would be acquiescence to the legislative. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Geoffrey, I‘ll give you the final word.

FIEGER:  So, now the litmus test for judges is acquiescence to unconstitutional acts by the legislature?  I don‘t think so.  I hope not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Geoffrey, you know what?  One thing you don‘t have to ever worry about are men and women in black robes deferring to anybody.  We don‘t have three equal branches of government. 

SEKULOW:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We have got the judiciary and two subservient branches. 

That‘s the bottom line. 

Jay Sekulow, Geoffrey Fieger, thanks so much for being with us tonight. 

SEKULOW:  Thanks, Joe. 

FIEGER:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  We really do appreciate it.  Even though we disagree with you, Geoffrey, you add so much to this debate because you have been through it.  And you know your angle.  You know your side.  I disagree with you, but thank you for being with us. 

Now, coming up, did the way Terri Schiavo die cheapen the dignity of her death or add to it?  And should it be up to God to determine when somebody passes on?  I‘m going to be talking with spiritual adviser Deepak Chopra and one of the country‘s top evangelists, Dr. D. James Kennedy.

That‘s coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sentence, execute through a cruel method, deny food and water.  Hunger and thirst, these were the means to kill life.  


SCARBOROUGH:  That was a Vatican spokesman talking about the passing of Terri Schiavo and the pope‘s very strong reaction to her death today. 

What lasting effect will Terri Schiavo‘s death by starvation have on people of faith?  After all, shouldn‘t it be up to God to determine when somebody passes on?  And did the way she die, with no food or water, and ugly legal battles deciding her ultimate fate, did that cheapen the dignity of her death? 

With me now to talk about this is one of the country‘s leading evangelists, Dr. D. James Kennedy from Coral Ridge Ministries, and the co-founder of the Chopra Center and author of “Peace is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End,” spiritual adviser Deepak Chopra.

James Kennedy, let me begin with you, because I have heard this time and again over the past several weeks.  If Christians believe in an afterlife, then why were they so panicked by the passing of Terri Schiavo? 

DR. D. JAMES KENNEDY, CORAL RIDGE MINISTRIES:  Well, I don‘t know any Christians that were panicked by the passing of Terri Schiavo or anyone else, for that matter. 

I was greatly grieved when someone called me this morning and told me that she had died, and I have been very prayerful for the last few weeks about her.  We are not panicked.  In fact, of all people, Christians have the assurance that, when they die, they are going to be with the lord forever.  And that is something that Christ gives to those that trust in him.  So, of all people, we would not be panicked.

But I was concerned about the fact that she was put to death by the edict of the court at the request of her husband, and at least the husband of her and apparently common law husband of another woman and the father of other children.  I was concerned about that.  I think that we would probably find out, if they decided to take someone on death row and to kill them in this way, that there would be a great uprising about that as well, and probably even have the ACLU and who knows who else in there fighting against that. 

But I am concerned.  I heard one of her best friends on the “Van Susteren” program say that she had heard her say that she would not—she would not want to have the tube removed from her, that she felt that was a terrible thing.  So, you do have this murky opinion about whether the woman verbally said that she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means, and others that said she did not want to have the tube pulled out.  And, furthermore, the matter of artificial means...

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly—it certainly is.

KENNEDY:  ... really disappears when it came right down to after they had taken the tube out, and her mother wanted to feed her some water in a spoon or a glass, she could swallow, and she could chew food and swallow that and drink, obviously, there‘s no artificial means there. 

And I think, personally, I would not want to be kept alive on some elaborate machine that was running all my organs for me.  That‘s very different than simply food and water.  And I think...


SCARBOROUGH:  I certainly agree with you, Dr. Kennedy.  I think you are exactly right.  There‘s a big difference between a ventilator or respirator and providing food and water through a tube. 

Deepak Chopra, you have, obviously, with the rest of America, been observing this over the past couple of weeks.  What are your thoughts tonight at the end of this ugly legal and political battle on the spirit of Terri Schiavo, how she lived, and how she died? 

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, “THE BOOK OF SECRETS”:  Well, I think, since there‘s such strong opinion on both sides, it‘s obvious that we don‘t have a clear answer. 

The people on both sides believe that they are coming from a place of love and compassion and caring for this person.  However, when it comes to the dignity of human life, I think you have to ask, did we prolong her life, or did we prolong her death for the last 15 years?  If God had had his way, then, you know, she might have died a long, long time ago.  If we didn‘t have these technologies, you know, 50 or 100 years ago, she would have died a long time ago. 

Just the fact that certain parts of her body are functioning is not evidence of a living being.  You know, as we move into a new era of technology, you are going to be able to keep any organ alive.  And, in fact, we do that.  Even now, in dead people, we take heart transplants that are beating and put them into other people‘s bodies. 

So, the fact that she had no cognition, no perception, no emotions—or no evidence of emotions or feelings or social interactions, the wisdom, traditions and the spiritual traditions of the world define life as those things.  We have come to an age of technology that we now define life with squiggles of electrical phenomena on pieces of paper, and the definition of life keeps changing. 

I think what the sad part of this whole thing is, that Terri Schiavo‘s unconscious body became a weapon for political exploitation, for economic exploitation—I believe a lot of lawyers have made a lot of money—and for, ultimately, exploitation with religious groups on both sides who want to voice their opinion. 

The fact is, Terri Schiavo‘s case shows us our own feelings about our mortality.  We are afraid to let her go because we are afraid of our own mortality.  This is a time—Terri Schiavo‘s legacy is going to be a time of self-examination.  How do we define life and the dignity of life, you know?  Can a person die at home without all this interference, with legal people, legislative people, the media? It‘s been a circus. 

You know, we are still having the circus, and all the melodrama, all the hysteria.  Meanwhile, 40,000 children died of hunger in the world yesterday; 40,000 died tomorrow; 40,000 will die tomorrow.  And that‘s not part of the news. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, it‘s not.  And it is remarkable, as I said at the top of this show, how one woman‘s death has seemed to reach out and affect more people than any individual deaths in Iraq or Afghanistan, or, as you said, across the world with the pain and suffering going on there. 

We‘ll be right back with my guests when this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY continues in just a moment.


SCARBOROUGH:  More with Dr. D. James Kennedy and best-selling author Deepak Chopra when we return in a minute.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH


D. James Kennedy, we will give you the final thought. 

KENNEDY:  Well, your other guest just did something which has been repeated in most all of the polls, confusing a feeding tube with advanced technology and all kinds of complicated technological means of keeping people alive, all of which I personally would not want.  But food and water is an entirely different thing.

And I believe that, as long as the person is receiving food and water, it will be God who will keep the person alive as long as he wants them to, and I think that that‘s what we should do.  As a Christian, I believe that life is a gift from God.  He has given it, and he will take it when he wants.  And giving food and water is not artificial means.  It is a natural necessity for every living human being to have food and water. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Dr. Kennedy, thanks for being with us. 

Deepak Chopra, stick around.  We will talk to you at the top of the hour. 

We‘ll be right back after this break. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking live at the Vatican, where Pope John Paul is said to be slightly improving after a high fever and a scare this afternoon.  He is being treated with antibiotics at the Vatican at this hour for an infection. 

Joining us live now from Vatican City, is Stephen Weeke.  Stephen, if you could, bring us up-to-date with the very latest on the Pope‘s condition. 

STEPHEN WEEKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, what you said is what we understand to be the latest.  That information came from a Polish priest who works here at the Vatican who has close ties with the inner circle in the Pope‘s apartment. 

And the information is that he is apparently stabilizing after what was a very big scare throughout the day yesterday and throughout the night here.  It‘s now 5:00 a.m. here in Rome. 

We are in the final hour before dawn.  The windows are still dark in the Pope‘s apartments, but they were lit until very late last night, with reports that he had suddenly had a spiked fever, a very high fever, as a result of a urinary tract infection.  And there was also associated with that an extreme drop in blood pressure.  So there was a great deal of worry and a lot of concern here—Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen, I understand that the Pope actually received last rites?

WEEKE:  Well, there is word that that, indeed, happened.  And though the last rites are the same sacrament as the anointing of the sick, they do not necessarily mean that death is imminent.  However, it is a sacrament that is given to the sick and to the dying so that they can reconcile themselves with God, should the end come—Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much for that report.  We greatly appreciate it. 

You know, we are keeping an eye on the Pope‘s condition.  And we will continue to update you on any developments as they come across the MSNBC News desk. 

Now, as we continue our special coverage on the death of Terri Schiavo, Lisa Daniels is outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo lost her battle earlier this morning.  And of course, she has been following this story for us all week and is there right now to give us the very latest from Florida. 

Lisa, what do you have for us tonight?

DANIELS:  Well, Joe, believe it or not, the protesters to my left are out there in full force.  It really is amazing.  If anything, the numbers have grown, as I told you, the last hour. 

In the last few hours, they are praying, they are singing, they are holding vigils.  We are seeing a lot of the activity that we saw throughout the week. 

Now, earlier tonight, there was a memorial service just down the road from here at the church.  Bob Schindler, Terri Schiavo‘s father, came out, thanked supporters for all their prayers and their help and also said that Terri thanked them, as well. 

Now, earlier in the day, a couple of hours earlier, various representatives from the Schindler family came out, took the podium.  Among them was Father Frank Pavone.  And he called Michael Schiavo and the judges who litigated the case, or heard the case, rather, “murderers.”  Now, that comment sparked a comment from George Felos, Michael Schiavo‘s attorney, several hours later.  It was this back-and-forth throughout the day.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo‘s attorney, called Father Pavone‘s comments “filled with venom, uncalled for, and plainly inappropriate.”  But he also reiterated why Michael Schiavo did what he did, which was namely was to allow his wife, Terri Schiavo, to die in dignity.  This is what he said. 


FELOS:  Mr. Schiavo‘s overriding concern here was to provide for Terri a peaceful death with dignity.  And I emphasize it because this death was not for the siblings, and not for the spouse, and not for the parents.  This was for Terri. 


DANIELS:  Now, hours later, we heard from Terri Schiavo‘s sister and brother.  We thought they were going to refute what George Felos said in that news conference, but instead, they simply took to the podium and said thank you to all the supporters out there that have come from so far.  And they also said that Terri thanks them for their prayers and their good wishes. 

Here‘s what Suzanne, Terri Schiavo‘s sister, said. 


SUZANNE VITADAMO, SISTER OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  Our family abhors any violence or any threats of violence.  Threatening words dishonor our family, our faith, and our sister, Terri.  We would ask that all of those who support our family be completely kind in their words and deeds toward others. 


DANIELS:  Now, George Felos in that news conference that we were referring to earlier said a number of comments.  Most importantly, he did reiterate why Michael Schiavo did what he did for the past few weeks.  And he said that, for those people who interpreted his silence as any type of guilt, that is not true.  He just wanted to remain very private.  Here‘s what George Felos said. 


FELOS:  Mr. Schiavo tried to spend as much time with Mrs. Schiavo as was possible.  When he was in the room visiting, when we got word from law enforcement that visitors from the Schindler family or Schindler friends wanted to visit, Mr. Schiavo promptly left the room.  We all went down the hall. 

They came in and visited.  They visited for as long as they wanted to.  And when they were—when they had left, we came back up the hall to stay with Terri. 

Let me also state, throughout this, throughout this entire process, were literally angels of mercy of the health-care providers, the workers of the hospice.  It was just unbelievable to see the incredible amount of compassion, warmth, and love, and caring, and skill which they used throughout this entire process to help Mrs. Schiavo have a death with dignity. 

It was quarter of 9:00.  We entered Mrs. Schiavo‘s room.  It was apparent that it was the final moments for Mrs. Schiavo.  She died at approximately 9:00 a.m.  Her husband was present by her bed, cradling her.  His brother, Brian, was there.  I was there, along with attorney Bushnell.  And many workers and care-givers from the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast were there, as well.  Mrs. Schiavo died a calm, peaceful end and gentle death. 


DANIELS:  Now, a couple minutes ago, I did go among the people standing to my left.  And I asked them, “What brings you here so late?  Why are you still here after Terri Schiavo died at 9:02 a.m. this morning?” 

And they said that—there were a variety of reasons.  First of all, they wanted to spread the news, just in case somebody had not heard, which seems very unlikely.  But perhaps more importantly, from their point-of-view, they wanted to show Michael Schiavo that their cause is still alive, even if Terri Schiavo is dead. 

Of course, there‘s a functional reason too.  This place is very littered with garbage.  They are going to clean up.  But they said that they plan to have their vigil there for hours on end, perhaps late into the night. 

Now, at 9:02 a.m. Eastern time, as I said, we saw Terri Schiavo pass away.  She was the center of a national controversy, but she was also the woman with a big smile. 

Here‘s NBC‘s Mark Potter. 


MARK POTTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  She grew up in a Philadelphia suburb in the 1960s, the first born of Bob and Mary Schindler.  Theresa Marie Schindler was just 21 when she met Michael Schiavo at Bucks County Community College.  In 1984, they married in Southampton, Pennsylvania. 


MICHAEL SCHIAVO, HUSBAND OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  We had a beautiful marriage, very loving. 


POTTER:  The Schiavos moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where on February 25, 1990, a horrible event would change their lives forever.  Terri Schiavo collapsed at home, suffering cardiac arrest and massive brain damage.  Her husband vowed to make her well again, and for a time, he seemed optimistic. 


MICHAEL SCHIAVO:  The first time I ever seen her look at me, turn her head and look at me, and I just got all sweaty. 


POTTER:  Michael won a million-dollar malpractice judgment, but then said he had come to realize his wife would never recover.  In 1998, he petitioned to have her feeding tube removed, a decision that put him at fierce odds with Terri‘s parents, who fought him for years in court. 


BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO‘S FATHER:  We will take care of Terri. 

MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO‘S MOTHER:  The rest of her life.  Just give her back. 

BOB SCHINDLER:  We have no problem with that. 


POTTER:  But Michael refused, and Terri lived for 15 years on a feeding tube, unable to speak for herself, as a bitter family fight played out before the world. 

Mark Potter, NBC News, Pinellas Park, Florida.


DANIELS:  Now, right now, I am standing next to a very familiar face in this controversy, Brother Paul O‘Donnell, who has taken to the podium several times to represent the Schindler family. 

Thank you for being here.  I know it‘s been a very sad and long day for you.  How is the family holding up right now?

BROTHER PAUL O‘DONNELL, SCHIAVO FAMILY SPIRITUAL ADVISER:  Well, they are strong people of faith.  They can stand before God and stand before Terri one day and say they did everything humanly possible to save her life.  And now their focus is on celebrating her life and to give honor to her.  They will be planning a funeral service here in St. Petersburg this week for her. 

DANIELS:  There have been some people who looked up at this whole controversy and say it seems like certain groups have hijacked Terri‘s cause.  Is that consistent with what you see?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, you know, that happens with any type of movement.  There are people that are drawn to it.  And they all have their own unique perspective.  And the Schindlers have been very grateful for the supporters they had.  But this will spark the national debate on the rights of the disabled and whether or not this type of procedure is going to be allowed in the United States. 

DANIELS:  I know Joe has a couple of questions for you, so, Joe, why don‘t you continue?

SCARBOROUGH:  How is the family doing tonight?  Can you hear me?  How is the family doing tonight?

O‘DONNELL:  They are doing OK.  They are at home.  Bob and Mary are spending time together.  And they are just praying.  And as Bob said, he is cuddling with his wife.  He is staying at home, being at her side. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, they have been at the center of a firestorm for quite some time now.  When it became inevitable that Terri was going to pass on, how did they cope with that?  What spiritual guidance did you give them to get through this very, very difficult time?

O‘DONNELL:  I told them that death is not the end of their relationship with Terri, that they will be closer to her, even now than more than when she was here, and that Terri, having experiencing the face of Christ, that she would not want to be back here, even as much as she loves them, and she probably would look at us and say, “Don‘t grieve for me.  I am happy.  I am with God.” 

But the parents realize that this was inflicted upon Terri.  And they will seek justice and forgiveness at the same time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Where do they seek justice?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, this was a barbaric act that was thrust upon their daughter.  And it‘s like a mother being forced to watch a perpetrator abuse their child.  So it‘s not a nice, pretty event that Mr. Felos and Mr.  Schiavo have contended in the press.  This is barbaric and this is cruel.  And it‘s immoral, and I think it‘s not the last word.  In fact, Terri‘s legacy may be that this is the beginning, not the end. 

DANIELS:  Joe, could I just ask one more question?  I wanted to...


DANIELS:  I just wanted to ask you whether you agree with Father Pavone‘s comments that we heard earlier today, calling the judges and also Michael Schiavo “murderers.” 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, I believe that this was court-sanctioned murder, yes.  And I believe that Michael Schiavo did something very evil and wrong.  I pray for him.  I pray for his soul.  I pray for his conversion.  And I pray that one day he will be at peace with all this. 


SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you, Lisa Daniels.

Thank you, Brother Paul O‘Donnell. 

Certainly, our prayers are with everybody.  And certainly we just want to remind everybody out there that Jesus himself said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”  And let‘s hope that a lot of those people that are angry tonight, that claim to be Christians, remember those words. 

We got a lot more coming up in this special edition of SCARBOROUGH


Now, of course, that doesn‘t mean they can‘t fight for what they don‘t believe in.  But the goal is to bring peace to this horrible, horrible situation and fight in the courts and fight on the political battlefields and not elsewhere. 

Now, when we return, we are going to have more of my conversation with Deepak Chopra talking about the spiritual aspect of Terri‘s life and her death.  That‘s when we return in just a minute.


SCARBOROUGH:  Spiritual advisor and best-selling author, Deepak Chopra, is back with me right now. 

And thank you for staying with us. 

You know, we had this debate in America and across the world for some time about when life began.  Does it begin at conception?  Does it begin at birth?  It seems to me like this case is starting another debate:  When does life end?   Give us some insight into that, if you will. 

CHOPRA:  Well, life begins when your father has a gleam in his eye for your mother, goes for a picnic, and you come back. 


You know, today it all depends on our culture, it depends on our religious beliefs, it depends on the hypnosis of social conditioning, it depends on our mythology.  There‘s no clear-cut answer. 

Biologically, life is always there, even in the sperm.  You know, the sperm is a living structure, a living cell.  It is moving.  It takes in nutrition.  Life is there when the ovum is fertilized.  Life is there when the fetus is born. 

Ultimately, I think for practical purposes, we have to define life as consciousness, consciousness which is awareness, which is also perception, which is cognition, which is moods, feelings, emotions, social interactions, relationships, behavior, and biology. 

When you put all of that together, we have a living being that can express their consciousness through the five senses and respond to the world.  And that‘s the only definition we can go by because otherwise we will be arguing forever. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So by that definition then, Terri was not alive for the past 15 years if she couldn‘t communicate...

CHOPRA:  No, and...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... if she couldn‘t reach out and have human interaction?

CHOPRA:  At least that would be my opinion.  Now, certain people have other opinions that are based on their beliefs, and their culture, and their religious and mythical indoctrination, if you will.  And they have a right to. 

I mean, I would ask you the question, were you in that condition for 15 years, would you want your body to be sustained through artificial means or through a tube?  And that‘s something you have to decide for yourself. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, there have been some polls out there.  A lot of people would not.  For some reason, and I don‘t know why, it‘s just intuitive, and my wife agrees with me, and other people I talk to agree with me, it seems that there‘s a difference.  And again, maybe this is a debate that we are going to continue having in the future. 

But to a lot of people, there seems to be a debate between a ventilator and a respirator, and something that you plug in to keep the organs going, or a kidney dialysis, and a feeding tube. 

CHOPRA:  And you know, Joe, we are going to get better at that.  We are going to get much better at that.  And in the future, if we are going to define life by keeping an organ functioning or a set of organs functioning, then we are going to be in trouble, because we could do that forever. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, so what does that mean?  I mean, where do we go from here?

CHOPRA:  I think we go into a deep self-examination.  That‘s her legacy.  Are we going to collectively, honestly examine these issues?  What is life?  What is quality of life?  What is quality of death?  What is dignity in living and dying? 

You know, there‘s a time for living, and there‘s a time to let go.  If Terri Schiavo is going to heaven and to her lord, why are we so afraid to let her go?

SCARBOROUGH:  Would you say tonight that Terri Schiavo died with dignity at the end?

CHOPRA:  I hope she did.  And I hope—I don‘t know.  I mean, we created a lot of melodrama, hysteria, a lot of legal cases, a lot of political jockeying.  You know, all of that was not very dignified. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Deepak Chopra, he, of course, is the cofounder of the Chopra Center

and author of the book, “Peace is the Way:  Bringing War and Violence to an

End.”   Thanks so much again for being with us. 

                Now, let‘s bring in our next guest.  We have Bernadette Healy. 

Obviously, a lot—Bernadine, I‘m sorry.  I‘m flipping papers here.

Bernadine, thanks so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

This battle has been a political battle and a medical battle, and you get people on and it seems you can talk to one side and they say all the medicine suggests that she was brain dead.  You get somebody on the other side, they say, well, no, no, it‘s clear-cut, the neurologists and radiologists that say she was still alive. 

What‘s your take on this very, very complicated medical issue?

BERNADINE HEALY, FMR. HEAD OF THE RED CROSS:  You know, Joe, I think you got to it earlier when you pointed out that, back in 2002, when the court-appointed group of doctors to go in and evaluate her, what we saw was a hung medical jury.  We saw that split of 3-2.

And the fact is that split was whether or not she did have consciousness.  That was the issue.  Three said, no, she was essentially functionally brain dead.  She was vegetative or a human vegetable.  I find that an ugly term.  But it‘s being thrown around. 

The others said, no, there is evidence of consciousness.  One of the doctors actually said—I read his report—that he was concerned that she was partially blind, and that was part of the problem with her interactions, and that she needed a detailed ophthalmological examination, a special neuro-ophthalmologist. 

There also is an additional neurologist who saw her within the past few weeks who did not examine her hands-on but did observe her personally over a period of time, again, which is the way you look for consciousness, conscious reactions.  And he came out with a long, long statement, which I also read, which said that he believed she was not vegetative. 

So here we have now 3-3 saying that, you know, vegetative versus she has some level of consciousness. 

And do you know what is really tragic, Joe?  That was not resolved by the time that she died.  And it could have been.  And I ask you, where was her doctor?  Who was her doctor?  Who was her medical advocate?  Should anyone die without a doctor there?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Ms. Healy, that‘s what I don‘t understand. 

HEALY:  Dr. Healy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. Healy, I‘m sorry, it‘s late.  Please forgive me. 

Dr. Healy—you can just call me Dumb Joe—Dr. Healy...


SCARBOROUGH:  Not even close.  You worked hard for your title.  I didn‘t work hard for mine. 

Dr. Healy, the thing that upsets me the most about this is just what you said.  But also, that you read The New York Times, you read The Washington Post, you read The L.A. Times—and when I start talking about this case with friends. 

And I say, “Well, you know that there were five neurologists that looked at her during the hearing.  Three of the five said she was in a vegetative state, two of the five said she wasn‘t.”  And they say, “Well, yes, but all of the scans show that she was brain dead.”  And I said, “Well, actually, that‘s not the case because there was a radiologist that looked at a 2002 scan that said there was improvement of her scan, that it was done six years ago.” 

This is such a split decision.  And yet, if you read the newspapers, if you watch a lot of the TV networks, you don‘t get that side of this story.  Why?

HEALY:  Well, I think this is the dangerous echo chamber of the press that we all know about where something is repeated.  A good example was something I heard tonight, or someone said, “She is brain dead.  She had a flat EEG.”

I can tell you, I have spoken to two of the neurologists who were on that panel in 2002.  She did not have a flat EEG.  I am saying that.  You can take it to the bank.  She did not have a flat EEG.  What she had was an EEG with lots of activity, but one that had a lot of technical flaws.  And it needed to be repeated.

And guess what, Joe?  It was not repeated.  And that is very, very troublesome from a medical point of view. 

I think the medical issues are complex.  They were turned into a cartoon.  They were turned into her being a giant vegetable.  And in fact, the facts were not out there for the public to understand. 

And I really believe that the debate would have been quite different in the eyes of the public if this had been an issue, if she has consciousness.  Even if it‘s the consciousness of an 11- or 12-month-old child, is this the appropriate way to go? 

The end-point might have been the same, but the debate was wrong.  And it was driven by a lack of medical facts and the fact that she didn‘t have a doctor, a doctor advocate who could correct the errors that were out there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  Dr. Bernadine Healy, stay with us.  We are going to hold you over the break. 

And when we come back, we are going to have a larger panel come in and weigh in on the life and the death of Terri Schiavo.  That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in a minute.


SCARBOROUGH:  More on the death of Terri Schiavo when we return.  I will be joined by the Boston Herald‘s Mike Barnicle and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. 

But first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at a live picture of Vatican City.  It‘s just after 6:30 in the morning over there.  We are going to be following, of course, the story of the Pope and his health, and his declining health.  Of course, the latest reports out of Vatican city seem to indicate the Pope is slightly improving. 

Now, let‘s go back to the Terri Schiavo story.  And with us now is Mike Barnicle.  He‘s from the Boston Herald.  Tony Perkins, he‘s head of the Family Research Council.  We also have David Pollak, Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century.  And Dr. Bernadine Healy is also back with us. 

Mike Barnicle, let‘s go to you.  The doctor was talking about—and Mike, you are not a doctor, are you?

MIKE BARNICLE, BOSTON HERALD:  No, I am not, Joe.  Thank God. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I wouldn‘t make that mistake with you.  You wouldn‘t make it with me.  I was thinking about being a doctor, except for the science part of it all. 

Mike, talk about how the press has handled the Terri Schiavo case.  I was talking with the doctor about the medical issues involved here.  It seems to me like they were just completely glossed over and we saw one side of the story. 

BARNICLE:  Well, Joe, I think—I am not sure whether we saw just one side of the story.  What I am fairly sure of is—I have been in this business a long, long time, in the news business.  And I have written hundreds of columns about the human condition, life, death, happiness, laughter, sadness. 

I have never, ever encountered a crueler collision of forces like religion, medicine, the law, and the media other than in a story like this, where we played a huge role, the media, in turning a woman‘s life and existence and her last few hours on this Earth into a cable-TV version of an interactive video game, complete with polls, where you could go online and register what you thought about what one family member was doing, what the husband was doing, what you thought ought to be done. 

We stripped this woman of dignity.  She had more dignity than the media did at the end.  And part of the coverage verged, at least to me, on obscenity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How should cable news networks have handled it?

BARNICLE:  Well, Joe, I mean, you can handle—and we do handle very well on cable TV, MSNBC, and every other news organization—we handle the facts of a case sometimes very well.  Perhaps in this case, we didn‘t handle all of the facts as well as we ought to have. 

It‘s a very, very difficult story to cover when you are trying to cover pure emotion, when you are trying to cover religious feelings of a member of the family, whether it was the Schindlers or Michael Schiavo.  That is a very difficult story to cover, because we cannot insert what we do into the soul of another human being.  We castigate one member, we applaud another member, and then we do the flip-flop the next night on these shows. 

We don‘t know what happened, Joe.  We don‘t know what Michael Schiavo felt.  We don‘t know really what the Schindlers are feeling tonight.  What we do know, as parents, you, I, anybody else who has a child, is that there‘s an enormously strong bond between the love of a parent for a child.  It‘s stronger, I think, than the love of a husband and wife because it‘s unique.  It‘s there from birth.  But we can‘t cover that in a TV show factually.  We can only talk about it.  And sometimes when we talk about it, we don‘t know what we are talking about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony Perkins, are groups like yours responsible for taking Terri Schiavo‘s tragic life and death and trying to cheapen it, as Mike was saying, to gain political points?

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  No, not at all, Joe.  We have been involved in this for over three years.  In fact, filed briefs with the Florida court in support of “Terri‘s Law,” which was originally passed by the legislature. 

And I think Dr. Healy‘s point, that there was essentially a hung jury by the experts here.  And even a criminal, when there‘s on trial, if there‘s a hung jury, we err on the side of life.  But yet, in this case, driven by the courts, we have a woman whose life was ended.  And I think if anything, this points to the problems of our courts creating public policy, usurping the authority of the legislative and the executive branches of government. 

I think what we saw in here from the courts is a persistent state of arrogance, in that they simply thumbed their nose at Congress and the president, who asked them to look—at the federal level—look into these facts in this case, because there was a hung jury by the experts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dave Pollalk, respond to that. 

DAVID POLLALK, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP FOR 21ST CENTURY:  Well, you know, first of all, I am very empathetic to that point.  But I must say, it wasn‘t an arrogance of the courts.  The courts are the system of how we handle disputes in this country.  And when you have a family, and there‘s a dispute on a woman‘s life, it goes to the courts. 

And honestly, I don‘t—as much empathy as I have for the family, and as tragic it is, I am not sure it‘s the role of the president, or the Congress, or the state legislature, or the governor of that state to step in and mediate this family‘s—really, this family‘s tragedy. 

And I do think that, to a certain extent, as hard as it was, as painful as it was, as agonizing as it was, the system worked.  We are a nation of laws.  And there are courts and there are judges who interpret those laws.  And that‘s what happens when there‘s a dispute.  I mean, I hate to boil a tragic situation down so analytically, but this is the way the system is supposed to work in a... 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And now there‘s a lady that‘s dead tonight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. Healy, you know, Dave Pollalk said what I have heard a lot of people say, and that is that this is the system that we have.  I guess my question is, is a judicial system, is a single probate judge in central Florida able to decide medical decisions that, in the end, affect the life or the death of somebody like Terri Schiavo?

HEALY:  Well, I am very concerned about that.  And I think that this is something that I hope will be a legacy of Terri Schiavo. 

I think here we have seen a collision of the methodology of medicine and law.  Law is about adversarial.  You get two doctors from one side and two doctors from the other side, and you have these four doctors dueling it out.  And the one who was the loudest, the most authoritarian, maybe has the fanciest curriculum vitae, may win. 

But in medicine, we don‘t do it that way.  When we have a group of doctors who disagree on a case—and it happens all the time—there isn‘t such absolute certainty in medicine.  You know what we do?  We sit down, and we try and figure out what the differences are and how we can sort that out.  Let‘s get the extra test and see if it‘ll give us the answers. 

This is the way medicine works.  This is the way of medicine, and the way of medicine was not practiced here on a medical case.  It is a tragedy.  And I think that, as we look ahead, what we should have done—and I believe what the court should have done—although, please, I am not a lawyer, and I shouldn‘t be so presumptuous.

But I think that, when there was this disagreement, they should have gone to the American Academy of Neurology and said, “Give us three neurologists who have no bias, not from the left, not from the right, they aren‘t selected by the husband, they aren‘t selected by the parents, they have no other agenda except giving us the best facts possible.  If there are additional tests that we need, whether it‘s a PET scan, whether it‘s a repeat EEG, a very easy test to do, let‘s get it done.  Let‘s bring that ophthalmologist in to assess her state, whether she is blind or not.  Do those things.” 

And then, you know, this would have been a way to bring the family together, because they all sit down in a neutral way with an independent assessment, and say, you know, if she is, indeed, essentially brain dead, let‘s come together on that.  But wait, if she is conscious, let‘s come together on that. 

BARNICLE:  Joe, you know what I am curious about?  And maybe you can help me out.  Maybe Dr. Healy can help me out.  Maybe some other member of this panel can help me out. 

Why Terri Schiavo?  Why are we here?  Why are we talking about this woman‘s life and her death?  When in a country of over 200 million people, there are tens of thousands of people in similar conditions in hospitals all across this country.  I know a couple of them.  Why her?  Why now?  Why this explosion of interest, and publicity, and frenzy around her?

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Mike, I think it‘s—go ahead.  I will let you go, Doctor.  Why?

HEALY:  I was going to say that this contentiousness doesn‘t exist normally.  Usually you can bring the family together, a doctor sitting and counseling can do it, but also these vegetative cases are actually maybe only 10,000 of them. 


BARNICLE:  But how did it become so politicized?

HEALY:  Well, you know what?


BARNICLE:  How did we arrive at the intersection of medicine, politics, the law, and the media?

HEALY:  What do they say?  You want an audience, you‘ve got to fight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony Perkins?

PERKINS:  When the public is aware of it, we can no longer deny responsibility.  And this became aware to the public.  And the way we resolve things are through the political process, through the legal process. 

BARNICLE:  A woman‘s life, you resolve it through the political process?

PERKINS:  Well...


SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, it‘s resolved through the courts.  I mean, the courts are an extension of the government. 

BARNICLE:  You show me a family situation that is resolved well, peaceably, amicably through the courts, and I will show you a pretty unique situation. 

PERKINS:  The government has a responsibility that no one is deprived of their life, liberty, or property without due process of the law.  There were questions about the due process for Terri Schiavo.  Congress and the president acted in a responsible and a very restricted manner, but the courts refused to do what they asked them to do.  They asked the federal courts simply to review the facts anew.  And they refused to do that.  And Terri Schiavo is dead tonight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Dr. Bernadine Healy, thank you. 

Mike Barnicle, Dave Pollak and Tony Perkins, we appreciate you all being with us.  And we will be back in just a minute. 


VITADAMO:  Please continue to pray that God gives grace to our family as we go through this very difficult time.  We know that many of you never had the privilege to personally know our wonderful sister, Terri.  But we assure you that you can be proud of this remarkable woman who has captured the attention of the world. 


SCARBOROUGH:  With us now is Daniel Spitz.  He‘s the assistant medical examiner at Hillsborough County.  And also, Dr. David Simon, a neurologist and cofounder of the Chopra Institute. 

Let me begin with you, Dr. Daniel Spitz.  You actually know the medical examiner that is performing the autopsy on Terri Schiavo.  Who is he?  And tell us a little bit about him. 

DR. DANIEL SPITZ, ASSOC. MEDICAL EXAMINER, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY:  Yes, his name is Dr. John Thogmartin.  And he is certainly a capable pathologist.  He‘s the chief medical examiner in Pinellas County.  And he certainly is well-trained and very capable to do the exam. 


SCARBOROUGH:  What is he going to be looking for?

SPITZ:  Well, he‘s going to be looking for the extent of her brain injury, but I think what‘s important to know is that a diagnosis of a persistent vegetative state versus a minimally conscious state.  Those are clinical diagnoses.  Those are diagnoses that are made by a physician in the hospital while examining a live patient.

Doing an autopsy and examining the brain certainly will give you much information about the extent of the brain injury.  But it‘s not going to separate whether the diagnosis actually is persistently vegetative or minimally conscious.  And I think that is one of the big issues surrounding this case.  And unfortunately, autopsy will do little to end that discussion. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was just going to ask you if it would end that discussion.  Or also, you know, there have been a lot of wild charges out there.  So many of them unfounded, but talking about abuse going back 15 years before this happened. 

And a lot of people are—it‘s like the old TV show about the coroner out in Los Angeles.  I forget what the name of the title of that TV show was, but they expect this autopsy to reveal all the secrets of Terri Schiavo‘s life, what happened before she got into this state that she was in before she died.  I mean, can we expect that to happen or are these people just—have they seen too many TV shows?

SPITZ:  Well, there certainly are a lot of TV shows out there.  And people do get wild expectations about what can be expected from autopsies. 

Certainly, the autopsy is something that can provide information.  But just as long as it provides information, it‘s also going to raise some additional questions. 

So while I am an advocate for doing the autopsy, because I think it will provide information about the extent of the brain injury and what areas of the brain sustained the worst damage. 

It‘s not going to answer every question.  It‘s not going to really determine the reason for her cardiac arrest back in 1990.  What it‘s going to do is shed some light on the extent of her brain injury, but it‘s not going to answer every question about what clinical state that she was in. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. David Simon, would you agree with that?  I mean, while she was alive, neurologists couldn‘t come to a conclusion on her state while they were able to examine her.  Do you think this examination after she died is going to reveal anything to us?

DR. DAVID SIMON, NEUROLOGIST:  It will tell us the extent of the brain injury.  But you know, the real issue, which is so emotionally charged, is everybody projects themselves into Terri‘s body.  And if you believe that while she was still alive there was some level of awareness, then that creates a tremendous sense of anxiety for any one of us who would feel that we are in that body. 

If on the other hand we believe that she had no conscious awareness, no ability to process information, no ability to communicate her needs, then in that case, she was not capable of experiencing any pain.  And then the sense of letting her go peacefully was the right choice.  The autopsy will show the probable expected damage to a certain layer of the cerebral cortex, which is what‘s seen when there‘s a lack of oxygen for a prolonged period of time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, gentlemen.  And we are looking at a brain scan right there of a normal 25-year-old and Terri Schiavo. 

Dr. Simon, quickly, can you see that and tell us what we are looking at?

SIMON:  Yes, I can see it.  And this, again, is a very typical scan that you see after the brain has sustained lack of oxygen.  You know, when she had a cardiac arrest, there was neither any blood flow, meaning that the blood pressure was absent, and there was also no oxygen.  And so the brain can not live very long without that activity.

And so the consequence is that those cerebral neurons degenerate quite rapidly.  And so what you are seeing when you look at that scan is the ventricular system, which normally carries cerebral spinal fluid throughout the brain, has expanded to compensate for the space that was gone by the lack of the normal brain functioning.

And the problem is that, that part of the brain that is missing, that is so atrophied, is the part that allows us to think, and to communicate, and to have feelings, and to express ourselves.  So that‘s why, even though her core baseline—her core brain-stem functions were still working, she wasn‘t able to interact in a way that allowed people to believe that she could express her needs or her feelings.  That‘s the definition of a persistent vegetative state. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Dr. Simon. 

Thank you, Dr. Spitz.  We greatly appreciate you being with us. 

And we‘ll be right back in a second.


SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking right now at a live shot of Vatican City.  And of course that‘s a picture of the Vatican.  It‘s now almost 7:00 a.m.  and reports from the Vatican spokesmen say that the Pope‘s condition is slowly improving. 

Now, of course, throughout the day, we have been hearing stories of the Pope‘s fever spiking, that he had a high fever yesterday.  But he has been treated with antibiotics.  And again, the word from Vatican City right now is that the pope is improving.  Stay tuned to MSNBC for all the latest developments. 

Good night.

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