Schiavo feeding tube plea heads to Supreme Court

As Terri Schiavo drew closer to death Saturday, a Florida state judge rejected another attempt by the brain-damaged woman’s parents to reconnect her feeding tube, leaving the couple with little hope they could keep her alive.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, planned to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court later today, family spokesman Gary McCollough said. The high court last week refused to intervene for the Schindlers.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer rejected the parents’ argument that Schiavo tried to say “I want to live” before her tube was removed March 18. They argued that she said “AHHHHH” and “WAAAAAAA” when asked to repeat the phrase.

Doctors have said Schiavo’s past utterances were involuntary moans consistent with someone in a vegetative state. The 41-year-old woman suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly from a chemical imbalance.

Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband and guardian, says she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

David Gibbs, the Schindlers’ lead attorney, said the Schindlers had ended their federal appeals less than a week after Congress passed an extraordinary law to let them take the case to federal court.

“There is nothing that can be brought back to the court federally that will in any way help Terri,” Gibbs said.

As of this afternoon, Schiavo had been without food or water for eight full days, and doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of her feeding tube being pulled.

The Schindlers are still holding out hope for an unlikely intervention by Governor Jeb Bush, who has said he has done everything in his power to take custody of Schiavo.

Her lawyers, however, have said Schiavo – whose dehydrated body has begun to shut down – may not survive the weekend.

“Time is moving quickly, and it would appear most likely – absent the state court stepping forward – that Terri Schiavo will pass the point that she will be able to recover over this Easter weekend,” Gibbs said.

State and federal courts have repeatedly ruled against the Schindlers, and the motion filed yesterday before Greer had been considered a long shot. Attorneys for Michael Schiavo argued yesterday that the Schindlers had abandoned all pretence of the law and were simply making “a pure emotional appeal”.

Before learning of Greer’s ruling, Bob Schindler said his daughter was showing signs of starvation, but was “fighting like hell to stay alive”. He again implored the courts and Bush to step in.

“I am asking the powers that be to know that it’s not too late to save her. Anybody that has the power to save Terri, it’s not too late.”

Governor Jeb Bush, who has been a staunch supporter of the Schindlers, said on Thursday he was not willing to go beyond the boundaries of his powers and he hoped the courts would provide relief.

Eight people were arrested outside her hospice yesterday for trying to take her water, but on today, Bob Schindler asked one of the protest leaders to end any efforts to get people arrested.

“Please tell your people here, do not make any scenes,” Schindler told the man.


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