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    Eight-year battle over wife's life nears end

    A judge rules that Michael Schiavo can remove his wife Terri's feeding tubes on April 20, despite her parents' appeals to keep her on life support.

    By ANITA KUMAR

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 30, 2001


    CLEARWATER -- A Pinellas judge said Thursday that Terri Schiavo's husband may remove his wife's feeding tube next month even though her parents continue to ask appellate courts to keep her alive.

    In a written order, Pinellas-Pasco Judge George Greer said Mrs. Schiavo's husband, Michael, can discontinue life support on April 20, the day the 2nd District Court of Appeal is expected to reaffirm its decision that the St. Petersburg woman can die.

    Schiavo had been ordered to wait until 30 days after all of Mrs. Schiavo's parents' appeals were exhausted before removing the tube, but Greer said Thursday he does not have to do that.

    "I think Judge Greer did well," Schiavo's attorney George Felos said. "I'm gratified to receive a clarification from Judge Greer so both sides know what they can do."

    Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, will ask the 2nd District Court of Appeal within the next few days to give them more time to fight, their attorney Joseph Magri said.

    "We'll do what we can to try to get the appropriate order from the court," Magri said.

    The Schindlers already have 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.

    The Schindlers 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 from a chemical imbalance in her blood one to two weeks after her tube was removed, 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.

    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 her surroundings, 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.

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