Terri’s Day is observed on March 31 every year in honor of Terri Schindler Schiavo. It also marks her death, and it’s no coincidence since her passing has caused a national controversy involving both politics and the supreme court. It brought about an increase in activism in the right-to-die movement, the pro-life movement, and disability rights groups. This day aims to promote education, prayer, activism, and combat discrimination against the disabled. We are invited to learn about Schiavo and pray for others who are in similar challenging situations.
History of Terri's Day
On February 25, 1990, Terri Schindler Schiavo, then 26 years old, suddenly collapsed in her Florida home. She suffered cardiac arrest brought upon by complications due to an eating disorder, but she survived. Due to the lack of oxygen, she suffered brain damage, resulting in a persistent vegetative state. A feeding tube supplied her with artificial nutrition and hydration.
In 1998, Michael, her husband, and legal guardian, said she would not want to be kept alive this way. He wanted to disconnect the feeding tube and let her die, but her parents disagreed. A highly publicized seven-year legal battle between him and Robert and Mary Schindler ensued.
Eventually, Florida’s Sixth Circuit Court granted Michael’s request. For the first time on April 24, 2001, Terri’s feeding tube was removed, only to be put back a few days later. Several appeals as well as government intervention took place afterward. President George W. Bush even signed legislation referring the case to the federal courts. Though more appeals did take place, the right of a married spouse to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner was upheld. Her feeding tube was disconnected and she died less than two weeks later on March 31, 2005.
Schiavo’s case showed we must value the dignity of human life, regardless of disability or illness. It is hoped that through the observance of Terri’s Day that the woman who became the symbol of the debate between one’s right to life or death would always be remembered.
Terri's Day timeline
The court appoints Schiavo as Terri’s legal guardian and her parents don’t object.
Schiavo wins a malpractice suit against doctors who he says misdiagnosed Terri and receives around $300,000, plus around $750,000 is put in a trust fund for her medical care.
A disagreement between Schiavo and Terri’s parents breaks out over how to spend the money they received for the malpractice suit and how to care for her.
Schiavo petitions the court to remove his wife’s feeding tube.
Schiavo’s feeding tube is removed by the order of Court Judge George W. Greer.
Terri's Day FAQs
Who made Terri’s Law?
This law was enacted as an emergency by the state legislature and signed by Governor Jeb Bush in October 2003 to enforce the reinsertion of a feeding tube in Terri Schiavo, who had been in a persistent vegetative state since her cardiac arrest in 1990.
What did Terri’s autopsy reveal?
An exhaustive autopsy found that Terri’s brain had withered to half the normal size since her collapse in 1990 and that no treatment could have remotely improved her condition.
Was Michael Schiavo in another relationship?
Micheal began a relationship with Jodi Centonze after Terri was already in a nursing home and they had two young children before getting married in 2006.
How to Observe Terri's Day
Donate to the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Foundation
This organization was founded in Terri’s memory. Since its inception, it has advocated for and assisted more than 3,000 medically vulnerable patients and families.
Say a prayer
Remember Terri Schiavo and those who are sick by praying for them every day of the week before and after Terri’s Day. Not religious? Prayer doesn’t have to be formal; just sending your heartfelt thoughts their way is enough.
Spend time with the sick
Volunteer to help at a local hospital or nursing home. Visit a sick friend or relative to make them feel like they’re not alone in their suffering.
5 Little-Known Facts About Terri Schiavo
Her favorite author was Danielle Steele
She was a born romantic who often went window-shopping at bridal stores.
A fan of “Starsky and Hutch”
She enjoyed reading popular magazines and watching T.V., particularly “Starsky and Hutch.”
Trans Am with a T-Top roof
For a very shy girl, her first car was very flashy.
She married her first ‘everything’
Michael Schiavo was her first kiss, and they were engaged within a year of dating.
Her favorite singer was John Denver
She even wrote to him to sing at her wedding (alas, he didn’t).
Why Terri's Day is Important
It reminds us to live our lives fully
Your life can change when you least expect it. That’s why it’s important to make the most of the time you are given, today.
It urges us to be prepared
You can never be in full control of whatever life throws at you. Still, it helps to have a basic plan to be able to deal with surprises.
It makes us take stock of our values
What would you have done if you were in the place of Michael Schiavo or her parents? Did the judge make the right call? Reflecting on the events that transpired could give insight into your own beliefs.
Terri's Day dates