- The Washington Times - Friday, February 25, 2005

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — A judge gave Terri Schiavo’s husband permission to remove the brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube in three weeks, handing him a victory in his effort to carry out what he says were his wife’s wishes not to be kept alive artificially.

The ruling by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer will allow the husband, Michael Schiavo, to order the tube removed at 1 p.m. March 18. In the meantime, the woman’s parents, who want her kept alive, are expected to ask another court to block the order from taking effect.

The judge wrote that he was no longer comfortable granting delays in the family feud, which has been going on for nearly seven years and has been waged in every level of Florida’s court system. He said the case must end.

“The court is no longer comfortable granting stays simply upon the filings of new motions,” Judge Greer wrote. “There will always be “new’ issues.”

The decision came on the 15th anniversary of Mrs. Schiavo’s collapse, when a chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating. The feeding tube keeps the 41-year-old woman alive.

“It’s a relief, a temporary relief,” Mrs. Schiavo’s father, Bob Schindler, said outside the hospice where his daughter now lives. “I don’t see it as a victory. The victory is when we take Terri home and we get her therapy.”

The judge made his decision after pleadings from the parents that they need more time to pursue additional medical tests that might prove their daughter has more mental capabilities than previously thought.

George Felos, Mr. Schiavo’s attorney, applauded Judge Greer’s decision.

“I am very pleased that the court has recognized there must be a finality to this process,” Mr. Felos said. “I am hopeful and confident that the appellate court will also agree that Terri’s wishes not to be kept alive artificially must now be enforced.”

State officials also are trying to intervene in the case. Attorneys for the Schindlers said the state wants a 60-day stay to investigate accusations that she is being mistreated by being denied appropriate medical care and rehabilitation.

The Schindlers and their son-in-law have fought each other in court since the late 1990s on whether Mrs. Schiavo should live or die. The two sides have battled through scores of opinions and rulings and tens of thousands of pages of filings.

The feud has taken on elements of a soap opera, with accusations that it began as a fight over more than $1 million awarded to Mrs. Schiavo in a medical malpractice case that her husband stood to inherit. Mr. Schiavo also has been accused by his in-laws of having a conflict of interest in wanting his wife dead because he has started a new family with another woman.

A handful of people protested outside the office of Mr. Schiavo’s lawyer, part of a coordinated effort that has included petition drives, e-mail and telephone calls to Gov. Jeb Bush and state lawmakers.

“I am here because Terri deserves the right to live,” said Mary LaFrancis, 70, a retired nurse who drove from Iowa to join in the protests.

In Tallahassee, the family’s supporters kept up pressure on Mr. Bush and lawmakers to act. A petition from the Fort Lauderdale-based Center for Reclaiming America purporting to bear 100,000 signatures collected online was delivered to the governor’s office.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bush said the governor will continue to look for ways to keep Mrs. Schiavo alive.


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