- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Terri Schiavo’s father said yesterday his severely brain-damaged daughter was “down to her last hours,” as a federal court refused for the third time in four days to grant a emergency request made by Mrs. Schiavo’s parents to restore her feeding tube.

In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said it had already ruled on most of the issues raised in the latest appeal, and that other issues raised did not apply to the case.

Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of the feeding tube being pulled, which was done March 18 after a judge sided with her husband’s argument that she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

Bob Schindler said yesterday his daughter was “down to her last hours” as she entered her second week without the feeding tube that had sustained her life for 15 years.

Dehydration has taken its toll on the 41-year-old woman, producing flaky skin, dry tongue and lips and sunken eyes, according to attorneys and friends of the Schindler family.

“Terri is weakening. She’s down to her last hours. Something has to be done and has to be done quick,” said Mr. Schindler, who visited his daughter yesterday morning.

Another legal maneuver included a late-afternoon filing asking Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer to order the reinsertion of the tube, claiming Mrs. Schiavo tried to say “I want to live” when her tube was removed.

Doctors who have examined her for the court case have said her previous utterances weren’t speech, but were involuntary moans consistent with someone in a vegetative state. Judge Greer, who had ordered the tube removed, ended a hearing later yesterday; he was expected to announce a decision by noon today.

In the hearing, Schindler attorney David Gibbs III urged Judge Greer to act quickly because he expected “Terri to step into eternity this Easter weekend.” George Felos, the attorney for her husband, Michael Schiavo, said the belief Terri Schiavo can speak was “crossing the line” into an abuse of the legal system.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore wrote earlier in the day that the parents could not establish “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits” of their case. He also noted “the difficulties and heartbreak the parties have endured throughout this lengthy process.”

Gov. Jeb Bush has been a staunch supporter of the Schindlers, and his office was still clinging to hope yesterday that the courts would allow the state to provide emergency care for Mrs. Schiavo. “We are continuing to do whatever we can and we are pursuing all the options available to us in this case,” Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said.

But supporters of Mr. Schiavo said the time for challenges had ended.

“All the politicians who injected themselves into this tragic and personal matter now need to begin respecting both the law and the legal process even if they disagree with the result that was reached in this case,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Florida chapter.

Mrs. Schiavo has been without food and water longer than she was in 2003, when the tube was removed for six days and five hours. It was reinserted when the governor and the Legislature pushed through a law that was later thrown out by the state Supreme Court.

Many supporters of the Schindlers say the governor could simply ignore the courts and take emergency custody of Mrs. Schiavo. However, the governor said Thursday he is not willing to go beyond the boundaries of his powers.

Mr. Schiavo’s attorney rejected arguments that the governor could overturn years of court orders in the husband’s favor. “Jeb Bush does not own the state of Florida and just cannot impose his will on Terri Schiavo,” Mr. Felos told CBS’ “The Early Show” yesterday.

On Thursday, a Rockford, Ill., man was arrested in Seminole after trying to steal a weapon from a gun shop. Michael W. Mitchell, 20, told deputies he wanted to “take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo” after he visited the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives, an official said. Seminole is about five miles west of Pinellas Park.

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