Federal Appeals End in Schiavo Case



The parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo have ended their appeals in the federal court system following another ruling against them by a three-judge panel in Atlanta, Georgia. The Florida Circuit Court Judge who ruled to disconnect their daughter's feeding tube more than a week ago also ruled against another appeal from Terri Schiavo's parents on Saturday.

Ms. Schiavo's parents are making what they say is one last appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to have their daughters feeding tube re-attached, but they are given little chance of success.

Bob and Mary Schindler gave up their effort in Federal Court to re-attach their daughter's feeding tube, after the 11th Circuit Court of appeals in Atlanta denied their third appeal. Last Sunday, the U.S. Congress passed an emergency bill allowing the Schindlers to appeal their case in Federal Courts. Days later, after a series of dramatic appeals through the Federal Court system, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube re-attached.

Terri Schiavo's husband Michael, who is her legal guardian, has been locked in a legal struggle with the Schindlers for more than a decade. Mr. Schiavo says his wife told him and others that she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Terri Schiavo slipped into what medical experts call a persistent vegetative state after suffering massive brain damage brought on by a heart attack in 1990.

George Felos, right, and Deborah Bushnell, attorneys for Michael Schiavo, walk away after delivering a news conference
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos told reporters on Saturday because of the seriousness of the case, courts will listen to the Schindler's pleas, but further legal action at this point is futile. "It is fair to say that if you look at the court system, the courts are saying not of course that they will not look at any relief filed, but I think any fair observer would say that the legal struggle is over here, and I would hope that the parents would acknowledge that," he said.

Terri Schiavo has been without food or water for more than a week now. On Saturday her parents and siblings visited her at her hospice. Bob Schindler, her father, told reporters afterwards that his daughter is clinging to life. "She is doing remarkably well under the circumstances. I was surprised she is putting up a tremendous battle to live. It is quite obvious she does not want to die and she is showing signs of over a week now of starvation and lack of hydration. But I can tell you she is fighting like hell to stay alive. We want the powers to be to know that it is not too late to save her. So anyone has the authority to come in and save Terri they can do it," he said.

Medical experts say Terri Schiavo's life expectancy can now be measured in days but Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos, who also visited his client's wife on Saturday, says there is no sign that Mrs. Schiavo is near death at this point. "As appear to me, her death [does] not appear imminent. She is resting comfortably, her breathing did not appear to be shallow, and at least at this point, it does not appear that her death is imminent," he said.

Mr. Felos says that when Terri Schiavo dies her body will be cremated and her ashes handed over to her husband Michael, who will place them in his family plot in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, where both Michael and Terri Schiavo were raised.

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