PUBLISHED: 1:42 PM on Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Letter to the Editor
Dear CCW:
It's now been shown that the polls that were widely reported in the mainstream media leading up to Terri Schiavo's death were biased polls with "leading" questions. The latest unbiased polling from Zogby show the nation clearly supporting Terri and her parents and wanting to protect the lives of other disabled patients. By a whopping 79 percent to 9 percent, Americans responding to the Zogby poll said that disabled patients like Terri Schiavo should not have food and water taken away.

The questions posed by the ABC News poll, for example, portrayed her as having "no consciousness" and being on "life support," rather than an awake, responsive patient with a feeding tube - which she was. Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years," the ABC poll informed respondents. "Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible." This whole dispute was about the disagreements among experts over her condition. Not to mention, she was not on "life support," and her family gave evidence of her "consciousness" over and over again!

The Zogby poll found that, if a person becomes incapacitated and has not expressed their preference for medical treatment, as in Terri's case, 43 percent say "the law presume that the person wants to live, even if the person is receiving food and water through a tube" while just 30 percent disagree.

The Zogby poll asked another question: "If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water?" A whopping 79 percent said the patient should not have food and water taken away while just 9 percent said yes.

In addition, the poll also lent support to members of Congress who passed legislation seeking to prevent Terri's starvation to death and help her parents take their lawsuit to federal courts.

Respondents were asked, "When there is conflicting evidence on whether or not a patient would want to be on a feeding tube, should elected officials order that a feeding tube be removed or should they order that it remain in place?" In response, 42 percent said it should be ordered to remain in place and only 18 percent said the feeding tube should be removed.

And finally, when asked directly about Terri's case and told the her estranged husband Michael "has had a girlfriend for 10 years and has two children with her," 56% of Americans believed guardianship should have been turned over to Terri's parents while only 37% disagreed.

It's the media's job to report the news in an unbiased way. Please, do your job, and correct the incorrect perceptions that Alaskans have been given about the facts in Terri Schiavo's case.EAll of our neighbors and friends supported saving Terri Schiavo's life. Due to the efforts of Zogby we now know that the majority of Americans agreed with us.


Karl and Betty Bengtson