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Schiavo case nears decision - maybe
St. Petersburg Times ^ | February 23, 2005 | WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, CHRIS TISCH and LAUREN BAYNE ANDERSON

Posted on 02/23/2005 6:33:21 AM PST by amdgmary

A court rules that a feeding tube can be removed, a judge orders a stay, and the legal struggle continues.


Published February 23, 2005

PINELLAS PARK - The seven-year legal battle over the fate of Terri Schiavo reaches a critical and familiar juncture today leading either to the end of her life or more legal maneuvers to sustain it.

Just days before the 15th anniversary of their daughter's collapse, Bob and Mary Schindler are once again asking a judge today to stop Michael Schiavo from ordering his wife's feeding tube to be removed so they can explore further appeals.

A judge's order barring the tube's removal expires at 5 p.m. today, opening the possibility that feeding will be stopped for the third time since 2001.

On Tuesday, the case hit the latest in a long series of legal standoffs.

First, an appeals court released an order that seemingly cleared the way for Schiavo's husband to order that his wife's feeding tube be removed. But less than an hour later, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer issued a second order stopping him at least until Greer hears argument today about whether to grant a further stay.

Without the food and water the tube brings, Schiavo is expected to die within two weeks.

Lawyers on both sides of this bitter and protracted legal battle agree that the case is at an important crossroads.

"Tomorrow is a huge day," attorney David Gibbs III, who represents Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, told reporters Tuesday.

George Felos, a lawyer representing Michael Schiavo said, "We're hopeful the courts will finally come to the point of saying, "No more delay.' "

Among the pending legal issues is a challenge to remove Schiavo as his wife's guardian, though Felos said a new guardian also would be forced to carry out court orders to end his wife's life.

In addition, Gibbs said he also plans to file a motion to seek further neurological testing to show Terri Schiavo may be in a minimally conscious state and could benefit from therapy, and not in the persistent vegetative state some doctors have diagnosed.

But Felos said she has no cognitive ability and has no chance to recover.

Tuesday started as have so many days in this complex legal contest - with protests, competing news conferences, last-minute court orders and the shadow of uncertainty hanging over everything.

Protesters stood outside Michael Schiavo's Clearwater home early in the morning as police watched nearby. Up to 50 people also protested outside the hospice in Pinellas Park where Terri Schiavo lives, holding signs saying "Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Let Terri Live."

Matthew Irwin, 24, a student at the University of Florida went to the protest with his mother.

"We're here to pray for Gov. Bush to intervene like last time," he said. "He has the constitutional power and the ability to give Terri life today."

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a mandate, essentially finalizing an earlier unsuccessful appeal by the Schindlers. Some thought the court would spell out instructions on when the feeding tube could be pulled, which could have delayed the act for weeks.

About 11 a.m., Terri Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler, told protesters outside the hospice: "I don't have much to say except we are begging and pleading for the Legislature and Gov. Bush to save Terri from being murdered in cold blood."

Upon its release, the district court order offered no instructions on when the feeding tube could be removed. In such an event, Felos had promised that his client would seek to end life-support immediately.

But about 1:45 p.m., Greer issued an order preventing the removal of the feeding tube that has kept Schiavo, 41, alive since her collapse Feb. 25, 1990, from a suspected chemical imbalance, which stopped her heart and severely damaged her brain.

Felos refused to say if anyone took steps to remove Schiavo's feeding tube before the stay was issued, but Gibbs said it wasn't touched.

Gibbs said the Schindlers were thrilled at Greer's temporary order. He said, "They believe once again that God has answered their prayers."

The Schindlers' lawyers will ask Greer at a hearing today to extend his stay. If Greer doesn't, Felos told reporters that his client will again have health care professionals remove the feeding tube.

"As soon as he is legally authorized, he will discontinue artificial life support," Felos told reporters at a news conference.

Unlike 2003, when state lawmakers and Bush stepped in and forced doctors to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube - a move later overturned on appeal - Felos doesn't think lawmakers have any options left.

"There is nothing they can do to overturn the final judgment of the court in this case," he said. "I think legislators know that, their staff people know that and the governor knows that."

Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said, "The governor remains concerned. He has never stopped looking for ways to help Terri" within the law.

House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, said in a statement the Legislature would help Schiavo if it could. But he said they "have not yet identified an appropriate action, in addition to those we've already taken, that would be helpful."

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who has been asked by the Schindlers to organize protests on their daughter's behalf, expressed hope Tuesday that state lawmakers could intervene.

Terry said he wanted Bush to use the Department of Children & Families to take over Terri Schiavo's guardianship. He would also seek a bill that would remove a spouse from guardianship if he or she lives with someone else. Michael Schiavo now lives with a girlfriend and their children.

By day's end Tuesday, few were willing to predict how Greer will rule today, though the stakes have seldom been higher. Terri Schiavo left no living will, leaving Greer to decide after a trial in 2000 what her wishes would have been based on statements she made before her collapse.

If Greer doesn't extend the stay, Gibbs said he will appeal to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, then to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gibbs also said he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a previous motion that statements by the pope that people in vegetative states have the right to food and water.

His argument is that Schiavo, as a devout Catholic, wouldn't want anything done to her that goes against the pope's wishes. Greer previously rejected that argument, and the district court affirmed him, leading to Tuesday's mandate.

"We have to go everywhere we possibly can to protect the life of Terri Schiavo," Gibbs said.

Felos said Michael Schiavo won't back down or accept any last-minute compromise.

"The fact is he's not going to walk away because he is resolute in carrying out what her wishes are," Felos said.

- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Q&A: TODAY'S SCHIAVO HEARING What happened Tuesday?

The 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a one-page mandate essentially finalizing an earlier unsuccessful appeal by Terri Schiavo's parents. The appeal used a declaration by Pope John Paul II saying people in vegetative states have the right to food and water to argue Schiavo, as a devout Catholic, would not want anything done to her in violation of the pope's words. What did the Pinellas-Pasco judge do in response to that order?

With Schiavo's husband threatening to order doctors to remove her feeding tube as soon as the 2nd DCA's mandate was official, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer issued a stay stopping him until at least 5 p.m. today.

What happens today?

Greer will hear arguments at 2:45 p.m. about whether he should extend that stay to give Schiavo's parents time to explore further appeals.

Will the tube be removed, and if so when?

It's impossible to say and even lawyers involved won't predict. It could happen as soon as today, or Greer could delay the tube's removal indefinitely.

If the feeding tube is removed from Terri Schiavo, how long will she live?

Generally a person lives a week or two once the tube is removed before dying from dehydration. It could be as little as 48 hours or as long as three weeks.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: disabilityrights; euthanasia; georgefelos; humanrights; judgegeorgegreer; michaelschiavo; terrischiavo
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To: Ohioan from Florida
Terri Ping!!

Please ping the list.

21 posted on 02/23/2005 7:31:21 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (Never play leapfrog with a unicorn!)
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To:; pc93; Ohioan from Florida; FL_engineer

Can any of you help at Post 11? ASAP?

22 posted on 02/23/2005 7:35:41 AM PST by Pegita ('Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word ...)
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To: Pegita

See post 18 for a link to the article.

23 posted on 02/23/2005 7:37:14 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (Never play leapfrog with a unicorn!)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick;; pc93; Ohioan from Florida; FL_engineer
Thanks, JRBC ...

INFORMATION FOUND at Post 18 ... Cancel the request, with thanks ...

24 posted on 02/23/2005 7:41:42 AM PST by Pegita ('Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word ...)
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To: amdgmary
I believe that the law should state that if there is no official living will signed, that this cannot happen. I do not know if there is time to pass it and make it retroactive and save Terri in the process.

I think that someone should serve Michael with papers TODAY for repayment of all of the money from the malpractice award that was not paid to the hospice. All money spent on legal fees and anything else other than Terri's care should be returned, since it was awarded for her care and rehabilitation only.

25 posted on 02/23/2005 7:42:29 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (Never play leapfrog with a unicorn!)
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To: newgeezer
It is wrong to assume that a person (or animal) in a 'vegetative' state is "unfeeling."

Source: The New York Times, Sept 28, 2003 p52 (NYT magazine)

Title: What if There Is Something Going On in There?

...Traditionally, there have essentially been only two ways to classify [severely brain-damaged patients]: as comatose (eyes closed and responses limited to basic reflexes) or vegetative (eyes opening and closing in a cycle of sleeping and waking but without any sign of awareness).

In either case, it has been assumed that they have no high-level thought. But...researchers are studying people like Rios and finding that the truth is far more complicated. Their evidence suggests that even after an injury that leaves a brain badly damaged, even after months or years with little sign of consciousness, people may still be capable of complex mental activity...

[While an MRI brain scan was being performed on patient Daniel Rios, a man diagnosed as being in a 'vegetative state,'] a 40-second loop of a recording made by Rios's sister Maria played through the headphones: she told him that she was there with him, that she loved him...

As the tape of his sister's voice played, several distinct clusters of neurons in Rios's brain had fired in a manner virtually identical to that of a healthy subject. Some clusters that became active were those known to help process spoken language, others to recall memories.

Was Rios recognizing his sister's voice, remembering her? "You couldn't tell the difference between these parts of his brain and the brain of one of my graduate students," says Hirsch, an expert in brain imaging at Columbia University.

26 posted on 02/23/2005 7:44:34 AM PST by shhrubbery!
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To: All

Asking St. Jude's help, here:

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you, universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. Please pray for Terry, she is so helpless and alone. Please make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Please come to her assistance in these great needs, that she may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all her necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly let her continue to be fed, to live, and to have visits from her priest and family. And I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of these great favors, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.

Lord God Almighty, we know that you hold us in Your hands, and that the very hairs on our head are numbered...We beg You to spare Terri for her family's love...we beg You to intervene for her and change the hearts of the authorities who stand in judgement, please remind them that they too may be helpless someday...Lord God, we pray for her deliverance from this sentence of death, her from her husband who no longer loves her, free her from the dreadful system that would cruelly kill her by depriving her of water and food...Lord God, we beg in the name of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.


27 posted on 02/23/2005 7:49:53 AM PST by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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To: T'wit

You are so right-on, T'wit. This is what Iv'e thought all along. Florida knows it has an aging population. They want the money, but not us. As a person nearing retirement, I can tell you, nobody has any patience whatsoever with the aging. Just listen to our young..."Old fashioned," "one foot in the grave, and another on a bannana peel, and "not in the know." (like bringing up the Ten Commandments, or taking the time to actually read contracts before signing due to a great deal of expeierence, and not senility. Warning about sin, debt, prodigality, etc.)

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm changing my will today to read that if any of my heirs has any part whatsoever in "pulling my plug" they get---nothing, nada, zilch. They're also going to have to pay the estate back for any and all loans before they can interit anything. All these idiots posting that they'd not want to live like Terri, are cowardly wimps with no rage to live.

28 posted on 02/23/2005 7:51:07 AM PST by texaslil
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I agree. And since she is using Medicade that should be prosecuted since MS is not without assets.

29 posted on 02/23/2005 7:54:37 AM PST by texaslil
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To: shhrubbery!; Ohioan from Florida

Please email this to Neal Boortz, who is yammering on and on about Terri being a vegetable. Pull the plug, he decrees!

I'll take Savage over this pompous a$$ any day of the week!

30 posted on 02/23/2005 7:56:50 AM PST by Darnright
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To: texaslil

Gee - what an interesting point.

Florida has a HUGE retirement population and it is to Florida's interest to be able to "pull the plug" on those "inconvenient" and to absorb their assets if no relatives found.

I had not thought of this - but it sure does explain the death culture rife through the courts. Of course, they mean death to those they determine unfit - not them.

31 posted on 02/23/2005 8:01:30 AM PST by ClancyJ (Sometimes we're a think tank, and sometimes we're just a tank ! - SlowBoat 407)
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Keep us abreast of any new information you get from the governors office.

32 posted on 02/23/2005 8:05:18 AM PST by mware
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: shhrubbery!
Very interesting.

Part of the problem is the terminology. When I use the term "vegetative," I mean "comparable to a vegetable." It is my understanding that vegetables are not sentient; they do not feel pain. Therefore, if a person is capable of feeling pain, I would not consider him to be in a vegetative state.

If the medical community is not 100% sure that a person cannot feel pain, it should not refer to his state as vegetative. :-)

34 posted on 02/23/2005 8:12:08 AM PST by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: Darnright
Feel free to email Mr. Boortz those paragraphs, or the whole article, What if There Is Something Going On in There? The whole article is fascinating.

Entire article is available at this URL:

Only an ass could believe, after reading it, that patients in a "vegetative state" are "unthinking" or "unfeeling."

Bu then, maybe Mr. Boortz is an unthinking and unfeeling ass. We don't get his program in our area, so I've only heard him occasionally on Hannity's show.

35 posted on 02/23/2005 8:15:57 AM PST by shhrubbery!
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To: newgeezer
If the medical community is not that a person cannot feel pain, it should not refer to his state as vegetative. :-)

The problem with the medical community is that they are very, very often WRONG. No matter how "100% sure" they claim to be.

In the Schiavo case, there actually are differing medical opinions. The judge, for his own personal reasons perhaps, has chosen to give credence only to doctors who side with Michael Schiavo.

I think the article I quoted (you can read the whole piece by clicking on the link in post 35) proves that there IS "something going on there" -- in the brains of persons in a "vegetative state."

They may not be able to show what they are feeling -- but they ARE feeling.

36 posted on 02/23/2005 8:27:27 AM PST by shhrubbery!
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To: ClancyJ

Always follow the money, ClancyJ. Maybe why FL has such a culture of death. There are probably thousands of retirees with no heirs. Then there is the nursing home problem. TX pays about 3,000 dollars a month per patient for nursing home care. No one wants parents to have to sell and use their estate for that bill, so they have the parent give them the estate beforehand, so the patient can claim destitution. They tightened up the law somewhat by not allowing such transfers of wealth to occur less than three years before such nursing home indigents make such claims, but I'd say it' not working. Most of the cases I know of can get by for a three year wait. Frankly, I don't think the old and indigent have a prayer.

37 posted on 02/23/2005 8:39:55 AM PST by texaslil
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To: texaslil

It appears that the government penalizes the people who try to have something. My grandfather at age 84 needed help. He was told he had to sign his home over to them. His brother, an alcholic, who never owned a pot or a window was in bad health too. The government furnished his brother with a place to stay, and a nurse to boot..cost him nothing

My grandfather didn't sign his home over to the government. We, the family took care of gramps, he was a wonderful person and I miss him.

38 posted on 02/23/2005 9:00:19 AM PST by pickyourpoison (" Laus Deo ")
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To: mware

A fine young receptionist there has passed the information on to Mr. DePietre, Jeb Bush's spokesman, she assures me he will get back to me. I also passed a copy of my email to David Gibbs, the attorney for the Schindlers.

39 posted on 02/23/2005 9:07:59 AM PST by
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To: newgeezer

I think we would be wise to never use the term "vegetable" to refer to human beings. First, no vegetables ever have souls - all humans do, regardless of their physical condition. Second, use of the term implies a less-than-human existence in which those who hate life are quick to glob on to in order to legitimize the murder of such persons.

40 posted on 02/23/2005 9:10:42 AM PST by
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