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No reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube


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12:04 a.m. March 23, 2005

ATLANTA – A federal appeals court refused early Wednesday to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, denying an emergency request by the severely brain-damaged woman's parents to keep her alive.

In its 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said the woman's parents "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims."

"There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," the ruling read. "We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law."

Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, vowed another appeal Wednesday.

"The Schindlers will be filing an appropriate appeal to save their daughter's life," said Rex Sparklin, an attorney with the law firm representing the parents.

The Schindlers said Tuesday that their daughter was "fading quickly" and might die at any moment. The feeding tube was disconnected on Friday, and doctors have said that Terri Schiavo, 41, could survive one to two weeks without water and nutrients.

A man who answered Bob Schindler's cellular phone declined comment Wednesday.

The Schindlers have been locked for years in a battle with Schiavo's husband over whether her feeding tube should be disconnected. State courts have sided with Michael Schiavo, who insists his wife told him she would never want to be kept alive artificially.

The decision came less than 24 hours after U.S. District Judge James Whittemore of Tampa rejected the parents' request to have the tube reinserted, saying they had not established a "substantial likelihood of success" if a new trial were held on their claim that Terri's religious and due process rights have been violated.

Even before the parents' appeal was filed with the 11th Circuit, Michael Schiavo urged the court not to grant an emergency request to restore nutrition.

"That would be a horrific intrusion upon Mrs. Schiavo's personal liberty," said the filing by his attorney, George Felos. He filed a response to the Schindlers' appeal and said he would go to the U.S. Supreme Court if the tube were ordered reconnected.

Demonstrators who gathered outside Terri Schiavo's hospice decried the decision early Wednesday.

"This is a clear cut case of judicial tyranny. All the judges who have ruled against Terri are tyrants, and we fully expected this decision," said Tammy Melton, 37, a high school teacher from Monterey, Tenn.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Schindlers arrived at the hospice and pleaded with state lawmakers to save her daughter's life.

"Please, senators, for the love of God, I'm begging you, don't let my daughter die of thirst," Mary Schindler said.

With that, she broke down and was escorted away.

In court documents, the couple said their daughter began "a significant decline" late Monday. Her eyes were sunken and dark, and her lips and face were dry.

"While she still made eye contact with me when I spoke to her, she was becoming increasingly lethargic," Bob Schindler said in the papers. "Terri no longer attempted to verbalize back to me when I spoke to her."

Louise Cleary, a spokeswoman at Woodside Hospice, said she could not discuss Terri Schiavo's condition for reasons of privacy.

Over the weekend, Republicans in Congress pushed through unprecedented emergency legislation aimed at prolonging Schiavo's life by allowing the case to be reviewed by federal courts.

By Tuesday afternoon, about 75 protesters gathered outside the hospice, virtually all of them upset with Whittemore's decision. They carried signs and shouted through bullhorns, and a Catholic Mass was celebrated. One woman was arrested for trespassing after trying to bring Schiavo a cup of water.

Among those supporting the federal judge's decision was Richard Avant, who lives down the street from the hospice and carried a sign reading "Honor her wishes."

"We represent the silent majority, if you look at the polls," Avant said. "We agree that Congress overstepped their bounds."

The Bush administration "would have preferred a different ruling" from Whittemore, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in Albuquerque, N.M., where the president was visiting a senior center. "We hope that they would be able to have relief through the appeals process."

The Justice Department also filed a court statement, saying an injunction was "plainly warranted" to carry out the wishes of Congress to provide federal court jurisdiction over the case.

Unless the feeding tube is reinserted, the department said, Schiavo may die before the courts can resolve her family's claims. "No comparable harm will be caused" by letting Schiavo live while the case is reviewed, the filing said.

At the same time, Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, praised Tuesday's ruling. "What this judge did is protect the freedom of people to make their own end-of-life decisions without the intrusion of politicians," he said.

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly from a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder. Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

Her parents argue that she could get better and that she would never have wanted to be cut off from food and water.

Associated Press Writer Jill Barton in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Terri Schiavo Dies, Ending 7-Year U.S. Legal Fight (Update4)

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman who became the focus of a national debate as her parents and husband fought over keeping her alive, died this morning, 13 days after doctors removed the feeding tube that sustained her.

Schiavo, 41, died in her hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida. She had been in what her doctors said was a persistent vegetative state since a cardiac arrest in 1990.

Michael Schiavo petitioned courts for seven years to allow his wife to die, saying she wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, disputed that and fought Michael Schiavo at every turn. The Schindlers were not with her when she died, their spokesman Paul O'Donnell said.

``They were denied access at the moment of her death,'' O'Donnell told reporters in Florida just before 10 a.m. local time. The Schindlers went into her room soon afterward to pray, he said.

Congress and President George W. Bush became embroiled in the issue, taking the extraordinary step of enacting a law that allowed a federal court review of the case. The U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts repeatedly refused to intervene.

David Gibbs, a lawyer for the Schindlers, said they ``are heartsick.''

``They believe that Terri is now ultimately at peace,'' Gibbs told reporters. ``They intend to comfort themselves with their faith and their family at this time.''


Michael Schiavo asked for an autopsy so the public can understand ``the full and massive extent of the damage'' to his wife's brain, his lawyer, George Felos, told reporters on March 28.

Schiavo plans to have his wife cremated and then have her remains placed in a Schiavo family plot in Pennsylvania, over the objections of the Schindlers, CNN reported.

The family battle drew national attention after Michael Schiavo, his wife's legal guardian, got a court order to remove the feeding tube. Congressional committees tried to intervene, seeking to hold hearings and threatening that anyone interfering with Terri Schiavo's ability to attend --- by removing her feeding tube, for example -- would break the law. The House Government Reform Committee planned to convene in her hospice.


A Florida judge denied a House request to delay removal of the tube until the hearings could be held and ordered it removed on March 18. Two days later, Congress rushed back to Washington from a recess to pass a bill allowing the Schindlers to file a federal case. Bush signed the bill in the early morning hours of March 21, setting off a series of federal court fights on an emergency action to reconnect the tube. Late last night, the U.S. Supreme Court refused for the sixth time to intervene.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Stanley F. Birch said yesterday that Congress's action violated the constitutional principle of separate branches of government. ``The legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint,'' he wrote.

Bush today extended condolences to Schiavo's family.

``I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others,'' Bush told reporters in Washington. ``In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in favor of life.''

`Attack Against God'

A Vatican cardinal, in response to Schiavo's death, called the court order to remove the feeding tube an ``attack.''

``An attack against life is an attack against God, who is the author of life,'' said Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Vatican's office for sainthood.

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called Schiavo's death ``a moral poverty and a legal tragedy'' in a statement. ``The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,'' he said.

Theresa Marie Schindler was born on Dec. 3, 1963, in Pennsylvania, the eldest of three children. On their Web site, the Schindlers described her as a ``charming, yet decidedly bashful'' child who loved the piano and had a talent for art.

In her youth, Terri struggled with her weight, at one point weighing more than 200 pounds. Friends and family told CNN that she always had a ready smile and a big laugh. She shied away from attention and desired a simple life with family, they said.

Terri Schindler and Michael Schiavo met in community college and married in November 1984, just before her 21st birthday. In one of the few interviews Schiavo gave during the controversy he told CNN he fell in love at first sight.

``She had this persona, this aura about her that just attracted you,'' Schiavo said. ``A beautiful smile, I mean, just shy and outgoing at the same time.''


In 1986 the couple moved to Florida, where Terri Schiavo worked as an administrator for Prudential Life Insurance Co. and Michael was a manager in a restaurant, according to a 2003 report from a court-appointed officer charged with reviewing the case.

By 1990, Terri Schiavo's weight had dropped to 110 pounds. Her diet or possibly the eating disorder bulimia might have contributed to a cardiac arrest that damaged her brain, according to the court guardian's report.

By all accounts, Schiavo at first believed his wife could recover and was devoted to her care. Within four years, he said he had largely given up hope and began ordering doctors not to treat his wife for infections. During that time, the Schindlers started seeking custody of their daughter.


Michael Schiavo won a malpractice settlement on behalf of his wife against her doctors, split into about $300,000 for him and $700,000 for a trust fund for Terri Schiavo, the Miami Herald reported. The Schindlers and Schiavo fought over the settlement, the Herald said.

Schiavo began petitioning the courts to allow his wife to die in 1998. By that time, he had begun a relationship with a woman he remains with today. The couple have two children. In a Supreme Court motion, the parents cited his new family in arguing that Schiavo shouldn't be his wife's guardian.

As part of their quest, the Schindlers shared pictures of Terri Schiavo before her collapse, bringing her image into the homes of millions of Americans. They also sent out later videotapes in which she appeared to respond to family members.

Supporters of the Schindlers' case such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a former heart and lung surgeon, pointed to the videos as evidence that Terri Schiavo was aware of her surroundings. Neurologists who examined her said they found no evidence of brain activity and called the reactions unconscious movements; 19 Florida judges agreed over the years.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Kristin Jensen in Washington kjensen@Bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Joe Winski at jwinski@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: March 31, 2005 13:16 EST


Edited by ShiningKnight
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Family feud over Terri Schiavo goes on

Mark Long

Canadian Press

Thursday, March 31, 2005

CREDIT: Associated Press

Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo's sister, left, Mary Schindler, Schiavo's mother, center, and Bob Schindler, Schiavo's father, right, pause during a news conference outside the Woodside Hospice where Schiavo is a patient on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 in Pinellas Park, Fla.

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - The seething feud between Terri Schiavo's parents and husband raged on even after her death, as both families planned separate funerals for the woman whose final months riveted Americans and reached all the way to the halls of Congress and the White House.

Schiavo, 41, died Thursday, nearly two weeks after her feeding tube was removed by a judge's order. Michael Schiavo says his wife told him long ago that she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, disputed that, and held out hope for a miracle recovery for their brain-damaged daughter.

The disagreement over Terri Schiavo's medical condition for the last 15 years may well be settled by yet another outsider. A medical examiner is conducting an autopsy that could help determine what Schiavo's state of consciousness was and whether she was abused by her husband, as the Schindlers allege. Those results are expected in a few weeks.

The matter of burying Schiavo, though, is something the two sides have had to settle themselves. The Schindlers, who are devout Catholics, wanted their daughter's remains buried in Florida, where they live. Michael Schiavo, however, has custody of the body and plans to have his wife cremated.

Schiavo's ashes will be buried in an undisclosed location near Philadelphia so that her immediate family does not attend and turn the moment into a media spectacle, said Scott Schiavo, Michael Schiavo's brother. A funeral mass, a concession to the Schindlers, was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday.

"After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity," said her sister, Suzanne Vitadamo.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo's lawyer, said she died a "calm, peaceful and gentle death," cradled by her husband and with a stuffed animal under her arm. Michael Schiavo and Felos were present when she died.

The ill will between husband and in-laws didn't abate even during Schiavo's final moments.

The Schindlers' advisers complained that Schiavo's brother and sister had been at her bedside a few minutes before the end came, but were not there at the moment of her death because Michael Schiavo would not let them in the room.

"And so his heartless cruelty continues until this very last moment," Rev. Frank Pavone, a Roman Catholic priest and one of the Schindlers' spiritual advisers. He called Schiavo's death a "killing."

Felos confirmed that no one from Terri Schiavo's side of the family was with her when she died, but disputed the Schindlers' account of why that was. Schiavo's siblings had been asked to leave the room so that the hospice staff could examine her, and Bobby Schindler started arguing with a law enforcement official so Michael Schiavo had him kept out, Felos said.

"Mrs. Schiavo had a right to have her last and final moments on this Earth be experienced by a spirit of love and not of acrimony," the lawyer said.

On Thursday night, Bob Schindler thanked supporters during a 90-minute memorial service that drew more than 200 people to a nearby church.

"You got us through a really tough time," he said. "We're so appreciative of it. We'll never forget you all. Thank you so, so much. And Terri thanks you, too."

The death brought to a close what was easily the longest, most bitter -- and most heavily litigated -- right-to-die dispute in U.S. history.

Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 after a chemical imbalance believed linked to an eating disorder caused her heart to stop. She had left no written instructions in the event she became disabled.

During the seven-year legal battle, federal and state courts repeatedly rejected extraordinary attempts at intervention by Florida legislators, Gov. Jeb Bush, Congress and President George W. Bush on behalf of her parents.

Supporters of her parents, many of them anti-abortion activists and political conservatives, harshly criticized the courts, who consistently sided with Michael Schiavo.

Many religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, said the removal of sustenance violated fundamental religious tenets.

© The Associated Press 2005


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April 2, 2005

Schiavo's autopsy completed

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Terri Schiavo's body was cremated Saturday as disagreements continued between her husband and her parents, who were unable to have their own independent expert observe her autopsy.

The cremation was carried out according to a court order issued Tuesday establishing that Michael Schiavo had the right to make such decisions, said his lawyer, George Felos. He said plans for burying her ashes in Pennsylvania, where she grew up, had not yet been completed.

Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had wanted to bury their daughter in Pinellas County so they could visit her grave.

Terri Schiavo, 41, died Thursday after the removal of the feeding tube that had kept her alive since 1990, when she suffered brain damage that court-appointed doctors determined had placed her in a persistent vegetative state. Her parents had fought in court to keep her alive, disputing the doctors' opinions and saying there was hope of improvement.

Michael Schiavo has not spoken publicly since his wife's death, but Felos said Saturday: "He's holding up. It's very difficult for him."

Michael Schiavo is required to tell his wife's parents of any memorial services he plans for Terri Schiavo and where her ashes are interred.

The Schindlers plan to have their own memorial service Tuesday at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport.

The Schindlers had sought to have independent medical experts observe their daughter's autopsy at the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's office, but the agency refused their request, family lawyers David Gibbs and Barbara Weller said Saturday.

The autopsy was completed Friday, the day after Terri Schiavo died, and results are not expected for several weeks.

Representatives of the medical examiner's office did not return a call seeking comment Saturday. The examiner's office has said it would conduct routine examinations and look for any evidence of what might have caused her 1990 collapse.

The Schindlers have accused Michael Schiavo of abusing his wife, a charge he vehemently denies.

Over the years, the couple have sought independent investigation of their daughter's condition and what caused it. Abuse complaints to state social workers were ruled unfounded, although one investigation remains open, and the Pinellas state attorney's office did not turn up evidence of abuse in one brief probe of the case.

Gibbs said the medical examiner's videotape, pictures and tissue samples from the autopsy could be reviewed by other experts if the family asks. While the autopsy report will be a public document, images will not be made public under a 2001 law passed after the death of race car driver Dale Earnhardt.


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