Rights Groups Mum on Schiavo's Torture


Newsmax | March 12, 2005

Court-approved plans to starve a brain-damaged Florida woman to death later this month have prompted no outrage from human rights groups - even though, under international law, forced starvation is considered a form of torture.

A Lexis Nexis search on the case of Terri Schiavo, whose starvation-execution will begin when her feeding tube is removed on March 18, failed to turn up a single reference to complaints by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The two groups have vehemently protested what they say is the abuse of terrorist suspects detained at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, calling tactics employed by U.S. interrogators, such as sleep deprivation and the playing of loud music, forms of psychological torture banned under the Geneva Convention.

Articles 14 and 54 of the Geneva protocols, however, also expressly prohibit the starvation of non-combatants - even in wartime conditions:

"Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited," states Article 54. "The prohibition on using starvation against civilians is a rule from which no derogation may be made. A form of words whereby it would have been possible to make an exception in case of imperative military necessity was not adopted."

Article 14 of the Geneva protocols states: "It should be noted that even if starvation were not subject to an official legal prohibition, it is nowadays no longer an acceptable phenomenon, irrespective of how it arises [natural disaster or induced by man]."

According to medical experts, after her feeding tube is removed, Mrs. Schiavo will experience extreme pain and significant psychological distress during the two weeks that her starvation-execution is expected to take.

Her skin, tongue and lips will crack due to dehydration. Schiavo will likely suffer chronic nosebleeds as mucous membranes dry out, followed by heaving and vomiting as the stomach lining dries out.

Her mouth is expected to develop painful ulcers. As Schiavo's brain is deprived of fluid, she is expected to suffer grand mal seizures.

Because the 41-year-old woman is in good health, with a normal body weight of 138 pounds, she could linger longer than a terminally ill patient.

Cheryl Ford, a former oncology nurse-turned-Schiavo activist, says that doctors supervising Schiavo's starvation-execution plan to take extreme measures to mask her physical agony, including the regular application of skin moisturizer and pain-killing drugs.

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