AP reports that the autopsy overseen by Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin found that Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman around whom controvery swirled as her husband worked to obtain permission to have her feeding and hydration tubes removed over the objections of her parents, had suffered from massive brain damage and was blind, and that her brain was less than half the size of a normal human brain at the time of her death.
The story did not say whether Thogmartin had specified when the shrinkage had occurred, although his quoted statements seem to imply that he believed it happened when she suffered her collapse fifteen years ago.
According to AP, the findings confirm the contention of her husband, Michael Schiavo, that Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. The autopsy did not uncover any evidence that she had been strangled or otherwise physically abused. The cause of her collapse remains a mystery at this point. Ms. Schiavo’s parents, who insisted that their daughter had not been in a persistent vegatative state and could recover if proper therapy were provided, “plan to discuss the autopsy with other medical experts and may take some unspecified legal action” according to a statement attributed to their lawyer.
As medical advances continue and end-of-life issues become increasingly complex, such disagreements will undoubtedly become more common, and clarity in the laws and in individuals’ directives will hence become increasingly important.