Another Door Shut In Schiavo Fight

Terri Schiavo, brain-damaged woman in a coma-like state following a heart attack, over U.S. Supreme Court building CBS/AP

A federal judge on Friday refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, yet another setback for the parents of the brain-damaged woman in their now-quixotic battle against her husband to keep her alive.

For a second time, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore ruled against the parents, 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.

Right to life protestors refuse to give up and their ire is turning inward on Gov. Jeb Bush. The activists wanted Bush to defy the courts and snatch Schiavo from the hospice and her husband's custody just like the late-night raid on Elian Gonzalez, reports CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

However, the governor made his position very clear. "I can't go beyond what my powers are and I'm not going to do it."

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 minute by minute right now. But it doesn't look like we have much left," said Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo's sister.

As of early Friday, 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.

The woman's husband, Michael Schiavo, says his wife would not want to be kept alive artificially, and he has been backed by years of court rulings affirming doctors' diagnoses that Terri Schiavo lives in a persistent vegetative state.

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," attorney George Felos said.

In the federal court hearing, Schindler lawyer David Gibbs III argued that Terri Schiavo's rights to life and privacy were being violated. Whittemore interrupted as Gibbs attempted to liken Schiavo's death to a murder.

"That is the emotional rhetoric of this case. It does not influence this court, and cannot influence this court. I want you to know it and I want the public to know it," Whittemore said.

A perimeter around the federal courthouse was evacuated during the hearing after a suspicious backpack was found outside. The hearing was not interrupted, and the package was safely detonated using a remote device.

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" Terri Schiavo, the Pinellas County sheriff's office said.
  • Lloyd Vries

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