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They have another month to try to prevent their son-in-law from removing their daughter's feeding tube.
By ANITA KUMAR
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001
CLEARWATER -- An appellate court Thursday gave Terri Schiavo's parents another month to continue their fight to keep their daughter alive before her husband is allowed to remove her feeding tube.
Just hours later, Mrs. Schiavo's husband, Michael, asked a Pinellas judge to let him remove his wife's life support on April 20, immediately after the one-month reprieve granted by the 2nd District Court of Appeal expires.
Because of a ruling made last year, Schiavo must wait until 30 days after all of Mrs. Schiavo's parents' appeals have been exhausted before the tube can be removed. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer will rule on Schiavo's request sometime next week.
Thursday's legal twists and turns were just the latest in the controversial St. Petersburg right-to-die case that drew a crowd of reporters and protesters to the courthouse in downtown Clearwater.
"It's my daughter's life," Bob Schindler, Mrs. Schiavo's father, said to reporters after the hearing. "I will fight for her until I die. Any parent would."
Bob and Mary Schindler have been feuding with their son-in-law since 1993 and are vehemently opposed to removing their daughter's feeding tube, saying she would starve to death.
Mrs. Schiavo, who has spent 11 years in a vegetative state, would die one to two weeks after her tube was removed from a chemical imbalance in her blood, her doctors say.
After an emotional trial last year, Greer agreed with Michael Schiavo that Mrs. Schiavo would not want her life extended by a feeding tube. That decision was upheld by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland last month.
Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, argued Thursday that because the appellate court has ruled in Schiavo's favor, Greer does not have the authority to prolong Mrs. Schiavo's life by 30 days. Schiavo "wants the feeding tube to be removed as expeditiously as possible," Felos said. "Her intent was not to be kept alive."
But Joseph Magri, the Schindlers' attorney, said the 30 days would be an appropriate time for family and friends to adjust to Mrs. Schiavo's impending death if the Schindlers lose their appeals.
This week, the Schindlers asked the Florida Supreme Court to hear the case -- a decision that could take the justices weeks or even months to make. The court is not obligated to hear the case and will do so only if the justices know of a specific reason they should, Felos said.
Mrs. Schiavo, now 37, collapsed at her St. Petersburg home on Feb. 25, 1990. Her heart stopped beating, and she was deprived of oxygen for five minutes.
Doctors say she is unaware of what is happening around her, that her motions and sounds are based on reflex only and that she will never improve. But her parents dispute that, saying she responds to sounds and sights.
The Schindlers and Schiavo have accused each other of trying to control Mrs. Schiavo's fate to get $700,000 she received in 1993 from a malpractice suit.
Schiavo and Felos said they have offered five times to donate to charity the $700,000 he stood to inherit upon her death if only the Schindlers would allow the removal of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube. The Schindlers said Schiavomade the offer only once, and that when he did, it was insincere.
Schiavo to ask judge to let wife die soon (March 7, 2001)