- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal by the family of Terri Schiavo to reinsert her feeding tube, while Florida courts refused to let the state take custody of the brain-damaged woman.

The losses in Washington and Florida seemingly defeated the effort to save Mrs. Schiavo’s life.

Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed last Friday under a state court order pursued by her husband, Michael Schiavo, and repeatedly upheld this week by federal courts, which all turned down her parents’ plea to reinsert the tube.

The high court repeatedly has declined to intervene in the case in the past and did so again yesterday with a single unsigned sentence.

“The application for stay of enforcement of judgment pending the filing and disposition of a petition for writ of certiorari presented to Justice [Anthony M.] Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

George Felos, Mr. Schiavo’s lawyer, said after the court’s refusal that “it is time for this activity to stop as we approach Easter weekend, and to let Mrs. Schiavo die in peace.”

On a separate track, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tried to have the state take Mrs. Schiavo into custody for additional rehabilitative care and to reinstate the tube in order to provide time for the state to investigate abuse charges.

But the motions were rejected by Judge George Greer of Florida’s 6th Circuit — the same judge who issued the original order to remove the tube. The refusals were upheld by state appeals courts and the Florida Supreme Court last night.

“I just can’t believe I’m watching my sister die this way,” Mrs. Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, told Fox News. “I’m just at a loss for words.”

He compared seeing his sister’s deteriorating state yesterday after almost a week without food and water to looking at “pictures of prisoners in concentration camps.”

But Brian Schiavo strongly disagreed with that assessment, telling CNN last night that his brother’s wife “does look a little withdrawn.” But he insisted she was not in pain and called starvation just “part of the death process.”

“I think just about every option has been exhausted,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “The only remaining option is to defy the judges’ ruling. … Jeb Bush could completely defy the state order and send in the police or National Guard to protect her.”

Supporters of Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, argue the case deserves another review because Mr. Schiavo’s motives are suspect, he denied his wife therapy and tests, and he is not in a position to decide her best interest because he has two children with another woman now.

Mrs. Schiavo’s medical condition is also under dispute, and supporters say this alone should merit reinsertion of the feeding tube so she can be given tests, including an MRI or a PET scan, which she has never had.

“When medical facts are in dispute, we should always err on the side of life,” said Bob Stevenson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.

The Schindlers appeared before U.S. District Judge James Whittemore last night in a last-ditch bid to reattach the tube while the parents pursue their case that their daughter’s religious and due-process rights were violated.

State courts have ruled that Mrs. Schiavo — who suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage in 1990 — is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Dr. Ronald Cranford, a neurologist and ethicist who examined Mrs. Schiavo on behalf of her husband, said this week that “there’s no ambiguity about the diagnosis.”

But Mr. Bush yesterday said new information suggests she may have been misdiagnosed. He cited a neurologist, Dr. William Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic, who observed Mrs. Schiavo and says she is not in PVS, but in a state of minimal consciousness. Another neurologist, William Hammesfahr, observed Mrs. Schiavo in 2002 and found that she was responsive to her environment, attempted to verbalize, could feel pain and could swallow.

Judge Greer was not convinced however, and said the state’s attempted intervention yesterday appeared to be aimed at “circumventing” his earlier ruling that the tube be removed.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case angered federal lawmakers, saying the justices clearly ignored the intent of their law.

“Sadly, Mrs. Schiavo will not receive a new and full review of her case as the legislation required,” read a joint statement released yesterday by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, and Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican.

The lawmakers said they “strongly believe that the court erred in reaching its conclusion and that once again they have chosen to ignore the clear intent of Congress.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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