A U.S. federal appeals court has turned down an emergency appeal by the parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo to have her feeding tube re-attached. Wednesday's decision marks the fourth time the appeals court has ruled against Ms. Schiavo's parents.
At issue before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, was whether the entire Florida state court record in the Terri Schiavo case should be considered in a prospective hearing that would consider re-attaching her feeding tube. Previous rulings in the case which went against Ms. Schiavo's parents were based on the procedural history of the case.
A statement from the appeals court said any further action by the court would be improper, despite what it called fervent and sincere actions by Ms. Schiavo's parents and the U.S. Congress. Last week, the U.S. Congress passed emergency legislation allowing Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to take their case into the federal court system.
Speaking Wednesday, Bob Schindler said he is again asking members of the Florida legislature to intervene in the case.
"I am asking that nobody throw in the towel,” he said. “As long as she is fighting. You can keep fighting with her, particularly anyone who is up in Tallahassee that is considering any kind of legislation. She could still come out of this thing. They have to help her. I plea that they help her."
Last week members of the Florida legislature rejected a measure to intervene in the case.
Terri Schiavo has been without food or water since March 18, when a Florida judge ruled in favor of her husband Michael, who is her legal guardian. Mr. Schiavo had been seeking to have his severely brain-damaged wife's feeding tube disconnected for more than a decade. He says his wife told him and others that she never wanted to be kept alive by artificial means.
Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage after a heart attack in 1990. Her parents say their daughter could recover some brain functions with intensive therapy, and she never expressed any opinion about the issue of whether or not she favored life support.
The decision by the appeals court to hear the Schindler's latest appeal on Wednesday came as a surprise to many in the legal community. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case. George Felos, a lawyer for Michael Schiavo said several days ago that he believed Ms. Schiavo's parents would be unable to convince any court to re-attach their daughter's feeding tube.
"The issue of whether Mrs. Schiavo dies or lives is not a frivolous matter,” said Mr. Felos. “That is a matter of great legal and moral weight. But, if you ask me a legal question as far as the legal sufficiency's of these motions, well no, they [the Schindlers] have not brought any new valid material for years."
Medical experts say Terri Schiavo could live about two weeks from the day her feeding tube was disconnected. Tensions are high outside the Pinellas Park, Florida hospice where she is being kept. Police search all vehicles entering the area, and they made more arrests on Wednesday of individuals trying to enter the hospice to give Terri Schiavo food and water.