- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — Terri Schiavo clung to life yesterday, as police stepped up security outside her hospice room and demonstrators prayed for last-minute government intervention in her case.

Opponents of removing the severely brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube carried their protests to the White House and Congress, and her father said she is weak and emaciated but repeated his plea that someone save her life.

“She’s still communicating; she’s still responding. She’s emaciated, but she’s responsive,” Bob Schindler told reporters after a morning visit with his daughter. He said she showed facial expressions when he hugged and kissed her.

“Don’t give up on her. We haven’t given up on her, and she hasn’t given up on us,” he said.

Mrs. Schiavo, 41, was in her 11th day without food and water, other than a Holy Communion drop of consecrated wine on Easter.

George Felos, the attorney for her husband, Michael Schiavo, told reporters in Florida that he had visited her for more than an hour and described her as “very peaceful. She looked calm.”

“I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever,” he said.

Mr. Felos also said the chief medical examiner for Pinellas County, Dr. Jon R. Thogmartin, had agreed to perform an autopsy on Mrs. Schiavo. Mr. Felos said Mr. Schiavo wants proof of the extent of her brain damage.

As Mrs. Schiavo drew closer to death, extra police officers blocked the road in front of the hospice, and an elementary school next door was closed so students could avoid the crowd.

President Bush’s aides have said they have run out of legal options. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said yesterday that although it “made sense” to have federal courts review the case, he had to respect their decisions last week not to order the tube reinserted.

Her parents pressed again for the president, Congress and the governor to intervene to have the tube reinserted, and about 20 people braved the rain to stage a 45-minute protest yesterday afternoon at Lafayette Square across the street from the White House.

“I want President Bush and Governor Bush to intervene,” said Mary Porta, 47, of St. Petersburg, Fla., who flew to Washington yesterday morning to attend the protest. She carried a 5-foot-tall foam spoon with the words “Please Feed Terri” written across it.

Some of the protesters carried signs that said “Save Terri.” Others had red tape across their mouths that read “Life.” Many were local residents.

“This is my first protest for her,” said Gloria Dodd, 38, of Silver Spring. “I’ve made phone calls, sent e-mails, prayed and fasted. I wanted to go down to Florida, but couldn’t do it.”

Doctors said Mrs. Schiavo probably would die within a week or two when the feeding tube was removed March 18.

Mrs. Schiavo suffered catastrophic brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance. Defenders of removing the tube have said her brain cortex was destroyed and that she has no higher consciousness.

Mr. Schindler said he feared the consequences of morphine that has been used to relieve his daughter’s pain.

“I have a great concern that they will expedite the process to kill her with an overdose of morphine because that’s the procedure that happens,” he said.

Mr. Felos said Mrs. Schiavo has been given two doses of morphine — one on March 19 and another Saturday — but that hospice records showed she was not on a morphine drip.

A hospice spokesman declined to comment on the case.

• Staff writer Amy Doolittle contributed to this report.

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