- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A brain-damaged woman was receiving nourishment through a new feeding tube yesterday, 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 last night, said their attorney, Pat Anderson.

Mrs. Schiavo looked gaunt, with red-ringed eyes, the lawyer said, adding: “I think what we’re looking at is the price of moving her.”

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 euthanasia case and ordered her kept alive.

Earlier yesterday evening, she was taken back to the hospice that cared for her several years. The family visited her there, in a Clearwater suburb.

The woman’s father, Bob Schindler, said he hoped his daughter would recover from being without food or water for six days.

“Terri is so resilient,” he said. “Tomorrow she could be back the same way she was before she left here. Maybe she needs sleep.”

Husband Michael Schiavo’s attorney angrily complained the woman was being mistreated by attempts to keep her alive, and legal scholars predicted that Mr. 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,” said George Felos, Mr. Schiavo’s attorney.

The case is one of the nation’s longest and most contentious euthanasia cases, pitting members of the same family against one another.

Mrs. Schiavo has been 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.

Mr. Schindler and his wife, Mary, say she still could recover. Mr. Schiavo contends that she told him she would rather die than be kept alive artificially, but family members said they never heard her say anything like that.

On Tuesday, the Legislature rushed through a bill designed to save Mrs. Schiavo’s life, and Mr. Bush quickly invoked the law and ordered the feeding tube reinserted.

A judge later rejected a request by Mr. Schiavo to block the governor’s order, but said he would consider it again after both sides file briefs.

Mr. Felos said earlier that the woman was quietly dying after the tube was removed and that it was “simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process.”

“The hysterical opposition to this 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 Mr. Bush was designed to be as narrow as possible. It is limited to cases in which the patient left no living will, has been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed, and where a family member has challenged the removal.

During the years she has been in a vegetative state, her parents reported their daughter laughed, cried, smiled and responded to their voices. A court-appointed doctor said the noises and facial expressions she made were reflexes.


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