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Legal battle divided Valley residents, too



Published: Fri, April 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Residents expressed sympathy for the family of Terri Schiavo.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The battle over whether to keep Terri Schiavo alive with a feeding tube transfixed and divided the nation over the last month.

President Bush and Congress agreed with Schiavo's parents, who wished to keep her alive at all costs, while the courts continually sided with Michael Schiavo, who wanted to remove the tube. Local reactions to the battle -- and to Terri Schiavo's death Thursday morning -- have been equally divided, reflecting the effect the issue has had on the nation.

Mahoning County Recorder Ron Gerberry said the situation was sad and tragic, especially for Terri Schiavo, whom he said was "clearly suffering" throughout the ordeal.

"I'm glad she's in peace," Gerberry said. "The whole thing was just terrible. I'm glad she's in a better place."

Gerberry noted the case demonstrated the need for individuals to take active control of their health and future by creating a legal record of what types of treatment or life support measures they would want.

"I have a living will because I don't want my family or myself to be in that situation," Gerberry said.

Effect of media attention

Shirlene Deal of Hubbard, an administrative assistant for admissions at Youngstown State University, said she sided with the parents. She found the fervent media and legal attention made an already bad situation more stressful.

"I thought it was very disturbing," Deal said. "I have children of my own (two daughters and a son). If that was my daughter in there, I would have done what her parents did. I would have fought the same way. I'm just glad it's over, and I hope she didn't suffer."

Josh Hiznay of Poland, a sophomore at YSU, was relieved to learn Schiavo died and was finally "at peace." The student said he doubts the issue is through being discussed.

"I don't think it's over over," Hiznay said. "I imagine there will be more lawsuits. It put the legal system to the test. It will be interesting to see if anything changes."

Jill Pascarella of Youngstown, a sophomore at YSU, agreed and expressed her relief for Schiavo's having passed away "to a better place."

"I honestly think it is was probably for the best [that it is over]," Pascarella said. "She had nothing left."

Though Robin Clarett of Youngstown agrees the ordeal was hard on everyone involved, she said she would side with Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri's parents, in the fight to keep her child alive.

"If it was my daughter, I wouldn't want the tube removed," Clarett said. "I'd want her to continue to live. I'm sorry to hear she passed away. I know her parents must be hurting."




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