This introductory chapter begins with an overview of the Terri Schiavo case. In 1998, eight years after the collapse that caused Terri to enter a vegetative state, her husband, Michael Schiavo, began a long court battle to remove her feeding tube. Without it, Terri would certainly die. Michael insisted that this was what Terri would want. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, disagreed. In court, they argued that Terri would not have wanted the feeding tube removed. The chapter then sets out the book's two main goals. The first is to provide an explanation of what happened and why in the battle over the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. A second aim is to see what lessons can be learned the Schiavo controversy in the larger context of the law, ethics, and culture of end-of-life decision making.
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