Federal Judge Rules
Second Time Againt Terri
Parents Appeal Again


TAMPA, Fla. - Terri Schiavo's parents on Friday appealed a federal judge's ruling that said their severely brain-damaged daughter's feeding tube should not be reinserted.
The appeal came after U.S. District Judge James Whittemore for a second time ruled against Bob and Mary Schindler, who had asked him to grant their emergency request to restore her feeding tube while he considers a lawsuit they filed.
The tube was removed a week ago on a state judge's order that agreed with her husband, who has said she has no hope for recovery and wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially. The Schindlers believe their daughter could improve and wouldn't want to die.
"We're looking into our options," said Rex Sparklin, an attorney with the firm representing the Schindlers, after the ruling was issued. George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In his 11-page ruling, Whittemore wrote that the Schindlers couldn't establish "a substantial likelihood of success on the merits" of their case. He also noted "the difficulties and heartbreak the parties have endured throughout this lengthy process" and praised the lawyers' civility, saying it was "a credit to their professionalism ... and Terri."
As of Friday morning, Terri Schiavo, 41, had been without food or water for almost seven days and was showing signs of dehydration -- flaky skin, dry tongue and lips, and sunken eyes, according to attorneys and friends of the Schindlers. Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of the tube being pulled.
On Thursday, both the U.S. Supreme Court and Florida Supreme Court denied attempts to save Schiavo. The Schindlers were also hoping that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would somehow find a way to intervene - but Bush warned that he was running out of options.
"We're minute by minute right now. But it doesn't look like we have much left," Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo's sister, told The Associated Press late Thursday.
Whittemore, who had previously rejected a similar request from Schiavo's parents, said many of the plaintiffs' motions were redundant after the hearing.
At the hearing's outset, Whittemore asked Schindler lawyer David Gibbs III to focus on the legal issues because he was aware of Schiavo's declining health. Gibbs argued that as she lay dying, her rights to life and privacy were being violated.
The drama wasn't limited to the courtroom. Tampa police called in a bomb squad after a suspicious black backpack was found on the north side of the federal court building. The hearing was not interrupted, and the package was safely detonated by police.
Thursday evening, a man was arrested after he went to a gun store in Seminole and threatened its owner with a box cutter while demanding a weapon to "rescue" Schiavo, the Pinellas County sheriff's office said.
Meanwhile, family members worried that Schiavo was becoming more and more malnourished as the legal battle played itself out.
"It's very frustrating. Every minute that goes by is a minute that Terri is being starved and dehydrated to death," said her brother, Bobby Schindler. He said seeing his sister was like looking at "pictures of prisoners in concentration camps."
Brian Schiavo, brother of Terri Schiavo's husband Michael Schiavo, strongly disagreed with that assessment, telling a news network that Terri Schiavo "does look a little withdrawn" but insisting she was not in pain. He added that starvation is simply "part of the death process."
A lawyer for Michael Schiavo said he hoped the woman's parents and the governor would finally give up their fight.
"We believe it's time for that to stop as we approach this Easter weekend and that Mrs. Schiavo be able to die in peace," Felos said.
"Jeb Bush does not own the state of Florida and just cannot impose his will on Terri Schiavo," Felos told CBS' "The Early Show" on Friday.
Yet there some Schindler family supporters still insist the governor has not done enough.
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. She left no living will, but her husband argued that she told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents dispute that and contend she could get better.
The dispute has led to what may be the longest, most heavily litigated right-to-die case in U.S. history.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused for the second time Thursday to review the case. Congress passed an extraordinary law over the weekend to let the Schindlers take their case to federal court.
For all the court documents in the Schiavo case, click here (provided by FindLaw).
Later Thursday, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer denied Bush's request to let the state take Schiavo into protective custody and, presumably, restore her feeding tube. Bush appealed that decision to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
In documents filed in Greer's court, Bush cited new allegations that Schiavo was neglected and abused, and challenged her diagnosis as being in a persistent vegetative state.
"The requested intervention ... appears to be brought for the purpose of circumventing the courts' final judgment and order setting the removal date in violation of the separation of powers doctrine," Greer wrote.
The Florida Supreme Court later declined to take up a separate appeal on another Greer order that blocked the state's social services agency from taking temporary custody of Schiavo while challenges are argued.
State law allows the Department of Children amd Families to act in emergency situations of adult abuse.
Late Thursday afternoon, DCF filed another petition before Greer seeking to provide emergency protective services for Schiavo. Greer had not scheduled a hearing by Thursday night but, according to Bush's office, he indicated one could occur Monday.
"For this lockdown to occur without having the ability to have an open mind, and say, 'Well, maybe there are new facts on the table, maybe there are new technologies, maybe, just maybe, we should be cautious about this' ... is very troubling," Bush said.
Even before the state high court's ruling, the governor acknowledged Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press that his hands were increasingly tied.
"It is frustrating for people to think that I have power that I don't, and not be able to act," he said. "I don't have embedded special powers. I wish I did in this particular case."
In his decision, Greer said an affidavit from a neurologist who believes that Schiavo is "minimally conscious" was not enough to set aside his decision to allow the withdrawal of food and water.
"By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment-assistance," Greer wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.,2933,151454,00.html



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