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Schiavo's parents ask for priest's visits

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2003

CLEARWATER - The parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo asked a judge Thursday to force the woman's husband to allow a priest at her bedside.

The husband, Michael Schiavo, recently removed the Catholic priest from his wife's visitors list.

Michael Schiavo accused the priest of interfering with treatment his wife received at Morton Plant Hospital for a bleeding esophagus.

Attorney Deborah Bushnell, a lawyer for Michael Schiavo, said that to gain access to Mrs. Schiavo, the priest misrepresented himself to nurses at a hospital where she is being treated.

Bushnell also accused the priest of acting as a spy by gathering information to help attorneys representing Mrs. Schiavo's parents.

The priest, Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, a substitute priest at St. Patrick's and St. Matthew's Catholic churches, both in Largo, denies the allegations.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer will decide the issue next week. But he hinted that he might let the priest have access to Mrs. Schiavo if the parties can't work out their differences.

Pat Anderson, representing Mrs. Schiavo's parents, said, "It is not protecting Terri Schiavo to take away a priest's visiting privileges. It's hurting her."

Mrs. Schiavo's husband is fighting a legal battle to have his wife's feeding tube removed. He has testified that his wife would not have wanted to be kept alive in her persistent vegetative state.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, are trying to keep her alive.

Mrs. Schiavo has been in her current condition since she collapsed at age 26 in 1990 from what her doctors believe was a potassium imbalance.

Greer has ruled that the feeding tube can be removed, and higher courts have backed his decision. The parents' attorney seeks permission from the Florida Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

On Monday, a 2nd District Court of Appeal stay will be lifted, allowing Greer to set a date on which Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed. Her death would follow within several weeks, experts say.

Mrs. Schiavo recently was treated at the hospital for bleeding in the esophagus and has been returned to a Pinellas hospice, Bob Schindler said.

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