Although the right-to-life battle over bedridden Terri Schindler Schiavo dominated the international news headlines for weeks in 2005, most people still do not know the true, full story—or its far-reaching social implications.
That is the opinion of award-winning veteran producer and director Ken Carpenter, who revisited the case for a two-part TV documentary broadcast last year and released in revised format this month as The Terri Schiavo Story.
“There were so many more considerations—both legally and biblically—that were never explored on the news,” he said. “As a parent, I am convicted that my children need to know the real truth about this landmark case in our country’s history so that as we face future cultural battles, we will have a better understanding.”
Schiavo had been hospitalized since suffering cardio-respiratory arrest in 1990 at the age of 26. With a ventilator, she was later able to breathe on her own but died of marked dehydration in March 2005 almost two weeks after her feeding tube had been removed following an extensive legal battle.
Among those interviewed by Carpenter was Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, now a full-time pro-life advocate. “Our hope is that people will learn the truth about what happened,” he said of the project, “and realize the atrocity that it was and that anyone who claims her death was ‘peaceful’ and ‘painless’ is lying.”
The documentary was originally made as a two-part report for ministry leader Joni Eareckson Tada’s Joni and Friends TV program. Carpenter’s production company was permitted to license the material for the new documentary. Tada, who hosts the presentation, said the story “remains relevant because there are countless people like Terri Schiavo whose lives are in grave danger because of unclear custody and guardianship laws.”
Running 51 minutes, the documentary includes some additional material not originally broadcast. A companion discussion guide had been proposed at one stage, but Carpenter said the questions raised by the program were “so self-evident” that the guide wasn’t necessary.
Click here to purchase The Terri Schiavo Story.