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Parents want Schiavo fed after tube removed

Published March 8, 2005

CLEARWATER - An attorney for Terri Schiavo's parents asked a judge Monday to allow her to be fed by mouth once her feeding tube is removed on March 18, though a lawyer for her husband said such efforts would be unsuccessful.

In a hearing to consider a variety of motions Monday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer did not decide immediately on the request to feed Schiavo. Such requests, however, have previously been denied.

The hearing came during what could be a critical week in the Schiavo case. The Florida legislative session begins today in Tallahassee, and those seeking to extend Schiavo's life hope lawmakers step into the case as they did in 2003.

Greer is holding a series of hearings this week on pending motions from Schiavo's parents. Bob and Mary Schindler hope they may yet persuade the judge to reconsider an order to remove their daughter's feeding tube.

In a case that has lasted seven years, few are willing to predict events in the next few weeks.

"This case just brings the unexpected,' said George Felos, an attorney for Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, who wants his wife's feeding tube removed.

David Gibbs III, an attorney for the Schindlers, said he is hopeful that legal efforts may yet extend Terri Schiavo's life. On Monday, he filed an appeal of several Greer rulings, including a denial of an indefinite stay preventing the feeding tube's removal.

At Monday's hearing, Gibbs said he has statements from 13 doctors that Schiavo may be able to eat food through her mouth. "Terri Schiavo should be given the opportunity to swallow and eat food like a regular person," Gibbs told Greer.

But Felos said the court has repeatedly found such efforts would be useless and might lead to infection and Schiavo's death.

Such a death from aspirated food entering her lungs would be painful, Felos said.

"Mrs. Schiavo is entitled to a peaceful death with dignity," he said. "She's going to aspirate and she's going to have an extended, gruesome death" if fed.

Greer also heard arguments on other pending issues, many dealing with end-of-life matters should Schiavo's feeding tube be removed. Among the ones Greer decided Monday:

--Refused to block plans by Michael Schiavo to have his wife cremated and her ashes buried in her native Pennsylvania. The Schindlers want her buried in Florida and oppose cremation.

--Refused a request by the Schindlers to allow select media to accompany them as they visit their daughter.

--Refused the Schindlers' request to allow their daughter to die at their home, noting the parents can visit the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives.

--Ordered that Michael Schiavo, if the Schindlers desire, hire a videographer to record their interaction with their daughter after her feeding tube is removed.

Greer will consider further motions today.

[Last modified March 8, 2005, 19:14:04]

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