'It's my turn' to tell story, Schiavo says of his book

Published March 27, 2006

CLEARWATER - The right-to-die case of Terri Schiavo was defined as much by its bitterness as by its length, and a new book by husband Michael Schiavo is not intended to calm the harsh feelings.

In his book, Terri: The Truth , Michael Schiavo says his wife's illness stemmed from an eating disorder that he believes her father helped cause by tormenting her for years about her excess weight.

Schiavo, who rarely spoke publicly during his 12-year battle to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, lays out his side of the case for the first time and refutes allegations against him made by his former in-laws, politicians and religious leaders.

"After all these years of people vilifying me, hanging me out to dry, I said to myself "It's my turn,"' Schiavo said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times last week. "I have to fix this. I have to make it right. Because there's a lot of untruths out there."

His book, which is being released today, includes revelations about how he made the painful medical and legal decisions that eventually led to Terri's death, as well as details about his personal life with his longtime girlfriend and now wife, Jodi. It also contains allegations about how he thinks his in-laws may have harmed Terri Schiavo.

In the book, provided to the Times, Schiavo:

--Alleges that Terri's father, Bob Schindler, ridiculed her when she was a heavy teenager, offering her money to lose weight and telling her she would go unwanted if she remained overweight.

--Acknowledges that Terri must have suffered from the eating disorder bulimia, something he hadn't noticed and was unwilling to accept for years.

--Reveals that he decided to give up his fight, at his girlfriend's request, as Congress was about to intervene last year but changed his mind after speaking to his lawyer, George Felos.

Schiavo's book is scheduled to be released a day before the Schindlers' book , A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo - A Lesson for Us All . Both are being released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death on Friday.

Schiavo's book, written with the help of professional author Michael Hirsh and published by Dutton, is told in Schiavo's voice.

The 320-page book is in some ways a tribute to both his wives, Terri and Jodi. Schiavo dedicates it to "the two loves of my life" and writes about his struggle loving two women at once.

But most of Terri: The Truth focuses on the exhaustive medical, legal and political history of one of the hardest-fought right-to-die cases in U.S. history and on his belief that the Schindlers' only motivation was the $1-million settlement the Schiavos received as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Schiavo said he wants the book to educate people about living wills and eating disorders and to motivate them to rally together to prevent politicians and activists from intervening in someone else's life.

"If Terri: The Truth does nothing else, my hope is that it mobilizes those of you who have been sitting on the sidelines to get involved in the effort to defeat the forces that were arrayed against me and my family during the final years of Terri's life," he writes. "The worst thing you could do after reading my book is nothing."