(CNSNews.com) -- It’s been nearly five years since his sister, Terri Schindler Schiavo, was starved and dehydrated to death, and Bobby Schindler says the mainstream press is still “telling lies” about her.
"It’s still being misreported by the mainstream media,” Schindler told CNSNews.com Thursday. “There’s things that are being said that were simply not true."
“They refer to Terri as being brain dead,” Schindler said of news accounts. “I see that all the time, and it simply is not true. They say that she was on artificial life support, without explaining to people what artificial life support means. There’s this perception out there that Terri was on a machine – that people like Terri need machines to keep them alive. And it simply is not true."
Terri Schiavo became the center of a crisis that played out on the national stage beginning in 2003, when a Florida judge, Judge George Greer, ordered her feeding tube removed -- at the request of Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband.
Despite a two-year long effort by Bobby's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, to save their profoundly disabled daughter, Terri Schiavo died of severe dehydration on March 31, 2005, almost 14 days after her feeding tube was finally removed.
Schindler said the autopsy report showed that his sister was physically in good shape at the time of her death -- and that the pathologist indicated she could have "quite easily lived a normal life-span." he said.
"Terri died because we took away her food and water – just like we would all die if our food and water was taken away. It took almost two weeks."
Still, the media continue to report that his sister, who was left profoundly disabled after a heart attack cut off oxygen to her brain, was brain-dead, that she was on artificial life support, that she was unresponsive and that she was blind.
"These are simply not factually correct," he told CNSNews.com. "It’s patently false.
“If Terri were alive today, she could be here to ‘March for Life’ with us,” Schindler said. “All she needed was a wheelchair, and we could have taken her anywhere. But there’s the perception out there that these people basically need to be bed-ridden, and they are unable to be taken anywhere. It’s just not true."
Many people still do not know that food and hydration are now defined, at least legally, as artificial life support, Schindler said.
“So when they refer to someone as being on artificial life support, (people) think that they are on machines – when the fact of the matter is that Terri could be taken anywhere," he added.
A former teacher, Schindler now speaks for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, which was formed after her death to help families with disabled loved ones in similar situations.
"There seems to me to be a profound prejudice against people with disabilities that exists in our culture today," he said.
“If you go on YouTube, or go on MySpace, and put my sister’s name in there and see all the horribly offensive things that come up, and how she’s made fun of -- it frightens me, because of what exists in our culture today and how we view people like my sister and people with cognitive disabilities," Schindler said.
"I think we’re being taught to look at these people as burdens, as inconveniences, instead of what I believe they are – as gifts. They allow us to show our compassion, our love. I believe that they are blessings.
“And if you talk to families that are caring for people like my sister, they look at their loved one as a blessing – to be in this position of having to care for them – because they are completely vulnerable to us.”
On April 11, the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation is sponsoring a concert in Indianapolis to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Terri’s death. Country music superstars RandyTravis and Collin Raye are headlining the event All proceeds will go towards helping families.
For more information, you can visit the organization's Web site.