A brain-damaged woman was receiving nourishment through a new feeding tube Wednesday, a week after her husband had tried to have such treatment ended but was blocked by the Florida Legislature.
Terri Schiavo, 39, was being fed through a tube inserted into her abdomen when family members, fighting an epic battle to keep her alive, visited late Wednesday, said their attorney, Pat Anderson.
The feeding tube was reinserted during a short stay at Morton Plant Hospital, where the woman was taken after Gov. Jeb Bush, heeding the Legislature's wishes, intervened in the bitter right-to-die case and ordered her kept alive.
Terri Schiavo's family believes re-inserting the feeding tube will prolong her life. They believe her eye blinks and involuntary movements are glimmers of hope she might recover.
End-of-life experts like Dr. Russell Portenoy tell CBS' Elizabeth Kaledin that's just not the case.
"A patient in a persistent vegetative state who lacks all of those higher brain functions can sometimes engage in movements that appear as if they are reacting meaningfully with others. But actually they're not."
Earlier Wednesday evening, she was taken back to the hospice that has been caring for her for several years. The family visited her there, in a Clearwater suburb.
Experts said the government's action raises legal issues that could complicate the case even further.
"After six days, six and a half days of not being fed, not receiving hydration, there's going to have been inevitably damage and it's just going to prolong the dying process,'' medical ethicist Dr. Joseph Fins told Kaledin.
The attorney for husband Michael Schiavo angrily complained the woman was being mistreated by attempts to keep her alive, and legal scholars predicted that Bush's intervention would be ruled unconstitutional.
"It is so repugnant to so many provisions of Florida's constitution, we are all certain that it will be overturned," lawyer George Felos said.
During the years she has been in a vegetative state, her parents reported their daughter laughed, cried, smiled and responded to their voices. But the court-appointed doctor said the noises and The case is one of the nation's longest and most contentious right-to-die cases, pitting members of the same family against one another.
Terri Schiavo has been in a what doctors call a "persistent vegetative state" and on a feeding tube since 1990, when her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance. Her eyes are open, but doctors say she has no consciousness.
The feeding tube was removed by court order last Wednesday at the insistence of her husband, who has custody.
The woman's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say she still could recover. Michael Schiavo contends that she told him she would rather die than be kept alive artificially, although family members said they never heard her say anything like that.
Meanwhile, the family says they've been barred from seeing their daughter.
"When I tried to go see how she was doing, I was told that the husband informed our family that we would be unable to visit her," Terri Schiavo's brother, Bob Schindler, Jr., said Wednesday on CBS News' The Early Show. "I called our attorney, and they're looking into it, and hopefully today we'll be able to get back into the hospital to see how my sister's doing."
On Tuesday, the Legislature rushed through a bill designed to save Schiavo's life, and Bush quickly invoked the law and ordered the feeding tube reinserted.
A judge later rejected a request by Michael Schiavo to block Bush's order but said he would consider it again after both sides file briefs.
Felos said earlier that the woman was quietly dying after the tube was removed, that her heartbeat had become irregular and her kidneys were shutting down, and that it was "simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process."
"The hysterical opposition to his case says so much more about us as a society." he said. "I think it says so much more about our fear of death than the sanctity of life."
The bill sent to Bush was designed to be as narrow as possible. It is limited to cases in which the patient left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state and has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed, and where a family member has challenged the removal.
Legal experts widely agreed that the governor and Legislature went too far.
"This particular administration has not yet understood why we have separation of powers," said former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan. "They seem to believe that the governor and the Legislature can do whatever they want and the courts should not interfere and that's not right."
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said: "I've never seen a case in which the state legislature treats someone's life as a political football in quite the way this is being done."
Bush and the Republican-led Legislature have a reputation for being at odds with the courts. They have clashed over abortion and the death penalty.
Bush and lawmakers who supported the legislation said they had a legitimate reason to intervene in the case to save Schiavo's life.
"Let us err on the part of not condemning this woman to a painful death that she can feel," said GOP Sen. Anna Cowin.