Friday, February 25, 2005

Judge Orders Florida Woman's Feeding Tube Removed

Judge Orders Florida Woman's Feeding Tube Removed
Fri Feb 25, 5:21 PM ET

Top Stories - Reuters
By Robert Green
CLEARWATER, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida judge on Friday ordered the feeding tube removed from a severely brain-damaged woman in three weeks, paving the way for her husband to allow his wife to die after a long court dispute with her parents.

Fifteen years to the day since a heart attack put Theresa "Terri" Schiavo into what some doctors call a persistent vegetative state, Circuit Judge George Greer ruled the feeding tube that keeps her alive should be removed on March 18.

That would give the parents time to appeal the ruling to higher courts, and their attorney immediately made clear they planned such appeals.

Schiavo, 41, has been at the center of a bitter seven-year legal fight that has become a rallying point for right-to-life activists, advocates for the disabled and proponents of the right to die.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, who is her legal guardian, says his wife had told him she would not want to live in such a condition. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, believe their daughter is in a "minimally conscious state" and say she could improve with treatment.
"I am very pleased that the Court has recognized there must be a finality to this process." Michael Schiavo said in a written statement. "I am hopeful and confident that the appellate court will also agree that Terri's wishes not to be kept alive artificially must now be enforced."
Greer, who ordered the feeding tube removed five years ago, said he would not grant any more stays in the case, but gave the Schindlers time to appeal the ruling.

UNLIKELY TO RECOVER

The court has accepted the view of some doctors who say Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, meaning she has no awareness and is unlikely to recover.

"The court ... is no longer comfortable in continuing to grant stays, pending appeals of orders denying respondents' various motions and petitions," Greer said in a 3-page ruling handed to reporters by a court official.

"Also the court is no longer comfortable granting stays simply upon the filing of new motions and petitions since there will always be 'new' issues that can be pled."

Greer said Schiavo's nutrition and hydration should be withdrawn at 1 p.m. EST on March 18. He said the deadline would allow time for "last rites and other similar matters" to be addressed.
The Schindlers' lawyer, David Gibbs, said the parents have dozens of legal options they can pursue over the next three weeks, including another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites).

"We're happy that we have at least three weeks before they're going to kill Terri," Robert Schindler said outside the hospice where his daughter is being cared for.

The U.S. legal system has repeatedly ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo during a long and controversial case that has involved state and federal courts, the Florida legislature, Gov. Jeb Bush and advocates on all sides of the right-to-die issue.

Her feeding was stopped in 2001 and then restarted under a court order. The tube was removed in October 2003 but was reinserted after the Florida legislature passed a special law giving Bush, the younger brother of President Bush (news - web sites), the authority to restart her feeding.

The Florida Supreme Court (news - web sites) struck down the state law, ruling that it violated the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declined to intervene, the most recent last month when it rejected Gov. Bush's appeal of the state high court ruling.

~LH 1 Timothy 4:12~

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