Attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler decided not to file another motion with a federal appeals court, essentially ending their effort to persuade federal judges to intervene — something allowed by an extraordinary law passed by Congress.
Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and guardian, has said she has no hope for recovery and wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially.
At least three more appeals loomed by the Schindlers and Gov. Jeb Bush. Schindler attorney David Gibbs III appealed an unfavorable ruling Saturday with a last-ditch plea to the Florida Supreme Court to get the feeding tube reinserted.
"Time is moving quickly and it would appear most likely ... that Terri Schiavo will pass the point that she will be able to recover over this Easter weekend," Gibbs said. He filed an emergency petition arguing that a Pinellas County judge ignored new evidence of Schiavo's wishes and her medical condition.
Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer rejected the family's latest motion Saturday. The family claimed Schiavo tried to say "I want to live" hours before her tube was removed, saying "AHHHHH" and "WAAAAAAA" when asked to repeat the phrase.
Greer noted doctors have said her previous utterances weren't speech, but involuntary moans consistent with someone in a vegetative state. The 41-year-old woman suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly from a chemical imbalance.
Scott Schiavo, Michael's brother, said the family was pleased to see the Schindlers' efforts nearing an end.
"He knows in his heart he is doing the right thing, he is doing what Terri wanted," Scott Schiavo said. "He's having a hard time understanding why people are fighting him on this, why they are calling him a murderer. It's very tough on him."
Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of her feeding tube being pulled, which was done March 18 after Greer sided with her husband. Her body wracked by dehydration, attorneys for her parents said she may not last through the weekend.
"She's doing remarkably well under the circumstances," said Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler, after visiting her inside the hospice Saturday afternoon. "She has put up a tremendous battle to live. She's not throwing in the towel."
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, denied reports by the parents' attorneys that her tongue and eyes were bleeding.
"She is calm. She is peaceful. She is resting comfortably," Felos told reporters Saturday as four sheriff's deputies stood by to protect him.
Outside the hospice, about 60 protesters maintained a subdued vigil and, like her parents, hoped for a miracle. Some said they believed it was not a coincidence that the woman would lay dying during the Easter weekend.
Schiavo was reared in the Roman Catholic church and her parents have made heavy use of her faith as the basis for the numerous appeals to reinsert the feeding tube that was removed more than a week ago.
Bush and the state have two appeals pending in their fight to support the Schindlers. But the challenges are before the state 2nd District Court of Appeal, which has rebuffed previous efforts by Bush in the case.
The Miami Herald reports that state law enforcement officers were on the way when local police told them to back off.
For a brief period, local police prepared for what sources described to the Herald as called a showdown.
"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," a source within the local police told the Herald.