Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Wednesday sought to walk back a controversial comment he made last week about the ethical and legal battles surrounding Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who died in 2005 amid a protracted family dispute over keeping her alive in a vegetative state.
The retired neurosurgeon, who sits at the top of national polls of the GOP field but has built a reputation for being gaffe-prone, faced a swift backlash last week for saying the case was "much ado about nothing" during a campaign event in Orlando.
"I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia. I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children," Carson told LifeSiteNews in a story published Wednesday. "I regret that my recent comments about Teri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted."
"When I used the term 'much ado about nothing,' my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient," he added.
Carson previously suggested that he believed Florida state officials and lawmakers in Washington overreacted to the situation, saying he did not “think it needed to get to that level.”
"We face those kinds of issues all the time, and while I don't believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out," Carson said last week. "Your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up."
The case continues to incite anger among those who staunchly supported legal interventions to keep Schiavo alive. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who intervened at her immediate family’s request to keep Schiavo alive against her husband's wishes, at the time called the case the most challenging in his entire tenure as governor.
Bush has occasionally referenced the case on the campaign trail and wrote about the episode in his recently published e-book, "Reply All," an anthology of e-mails from his time in office. "At the end of the day, I knew in my heart I had done absolutely everything I could to save Terri," he wrote.