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Area residents' opinions vary on Schiavo case

April 01, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Tri-State area residents who were asked Thursday for their opinions about the life and death of Terri Schiavo were, like others across the country, divided in their opinions.

Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed March 18, died Thursday morning.

Larry Jones, 62, of Hagerstown, continued to question the decision to remove the feeding tube.

"They do not let those people over where they had the tsunami starve to death," Jones said. "If the parents wanted to keep her, it's not anyone else's business."

Alice Derflinger, of Martinsburg W.Va., said she and members of her church prayed for Schiavo.

"We really feel sorry for her. We wanted to see her live," said Derflinger, 73.

Jean Hutzler said she can empathize with Terri Schiavo's parents.

Hutzler, 70, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., lost her son after he was hit by a truck while walking to his mailbox. He suffered brain damage and died, she said.

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"I think they should have let her mother and father take care of her," Hutzler said of Schiavo, adding that she was angry that Schiavo starved to death.

Wiley Williams, 61, of Hagerstown, said he believed Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, violated the "in sickness and in health" part of their marriage vows.

"He shouldn't have been out to let her die. He should have stood up for her life," Williams said.

Several others from Hagerstown said they believed her husband's assertion that Schiavo would rather have died than to live in such a medical state.

Todd Barnhart, 36, of Hagerstown, said Schiavo had already suffered for too long.

"I think she's at peace now," Barnhart said.

Theresa Fox, 56, of Hagerstown said, "If I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want to live either, not after 15 years."

Todd Newell, 29, of Waynesboro, Pa., said Schiavo's husband should have had the right to decide her fate. He questioned why supporters of Schiavo's parents, who vehemently fought the removal of the feeding tube in the Florida court system, have not rallied behind others in similar situations.

"The same kind of thing happens right here in the hospital and in nursing homes, and I don't see no protest," Newell said.

Some others seemed conflicted about what was best for Schiavo.

"The woman deserved to pass away in peace," said Steve Klipp, 53, of Waynesboro, Pa. "I feel that the whole situation is extremely sad, being kept alive like that for 15 years. Still, the decision to end her life in such a slow, agonizing way seems cruel."

"In a way," said Debra Newcomer, 48, of Waynesboro, "I'm upset that they left her to die the way she did, but I don't know if I could have lived that way myself."

Hagerstown resident Nancy Bachtell, 51, said she believed some good came of the controversial case.

"I think she brought our attention to an issue we all need to think about," Bachtell said.

"Her purpose touched lives all around the world. It woke the world up again," said Devone Solo Baskin, 29, of Hagerstown, who likened the story's impact to that of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I'm not happy to see her die ... but it was blown out of proportion," said John Buckner, 46, of Hagerstown.

Buckner said he believes many similar or worse situations have not received as much public attention in recent years.

"God bless her. I hope she's resting in heaven," he added.

Staff Writers Richard F. Belisle and Candice Bosely contributed to this story.

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