A federal appeals court in Atlanta, Georgia has ruled against a motion to reinsert a feeding tube in a brain damaged Florida woman. The case of Terri Schiavo may now be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a two-to-one majority decision, a three judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the parents of 41-year-old Terri Schiavo had "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims."
However, a dissenting judge on the panel wrote that refusing the request to have the feeding tube reinserted amounts to "frustrating Congress' intent." On Sunday an emergency session of the U.S. Congress convened to pass emergency legislation allowing the brain-damaged Florida woman's parents to take their case into federal courts.
The woman's husband has been fighting to have the feeding tube removed, saying she had made clear to him that she did not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.
But lawyers for Terri Schiavo's parents said her death by starvation and dehydration would constitute a "mortal sin" under her Roman Catholic beliefs and would, therefore, violate her religious liberties under the U.S. Constitution.
As part of their efforts to keep their daughter alive, Terri Schiavo's parents say they are also asking the Florida state senate to remove Michael Schiavo as his wife's legal guardian. Florida's Governor, Jeb Bush on Wednesday indicated he would support the effort.
Ms. Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler says time is running out for her daughter.
"Please senators, for the love of God, I am begging you, do not let my daughter die of thirst," she pleaded.
On Tuesday, a federal judge found that Terri Schiavo's "life and liberty" interests had been protected by Florida courts, which have ruled consistently in favor of her husband Michael. Mr. Schiavo's attorney, George Felos told reporters all legal issues surrounding the case have been exhausted.
"Every possible issue in this case has been litigated and relitigated over and over again," he said. " If we had a hundred lawyers enter the case the result would be no different because there are no new issues, there are no new things for any court to review."
A majority of court appointed physicians who have examined Terri Schiavo report that she has been in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state since 1990, when her heart stopped briefly, from a chemical imbalance, believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder. They say since then, she has suffered irreparable brain damage. Ms. Schiavo's parents say they believe she could recover.
Terri Schiavo has been without food or water since Friday, although medical experts say it could take a week or longer for her to die if her feeding tube is not reconnected.