A U.S. federal appeals court has agreed to hear an emergency appeal by the parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo to have her feeding tube re-attached. The surprise development comes as Ms. Schiavo's parents appealed to her husband to relinquish control of their daughter so that she may be kept alive.
Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, achieved a rare legal win, when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia agreed to consider a motion on whether a new hearing can be convened to discuss whether Terri Schiavo's feeding tube can be re-attached.
The court agreed to the request even though a deadline had passed to file the motion. Last week the same court denied several motions by the Schindlers to have their daughter's feeding tube re-attached. At issue in this latest appeal is whether the entire state court record in the case can be considered, rather than just the procedural history of the case that was under consideration last week.
Terri Schiavo's parents have appealed to have her feeding tube immediately re-attached while the court deliberates. Ms. Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler, also made an emotional appeal to her daughter's husband, Michael, and the woman he has been living with, to relinquish control of her daughter.
"Michael and Jodi, you have your own children,” she said. “Please give my child back to me."
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 she never wanted to be kept alive by artificial means. Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage after a heart attack in 1990.
Court-appointed doctors say Terri Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state for years, and will never regain consciousness. Courts at both the state and federal level have upheld Michael Schiavo's right to disconnect the feeding tube keeping his wife alive. Speaking several days ago, Mr. Schiavo's attorney, George Felos said he believed the Schindlers had exhausted all legal arguments in the case.
"The issue of whether Mrs. Schiavo dies or lives is not a frivolous matter," he said. "That is a matter great legal weight 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."
Meanwhile tensions are high outside the Pinellas Park, Florida hospice where Terri Schiavo is being kept. Police made more arrests on Wednesday of individuals attempting to enter the hospice to give the brain-damaged woman food and water.