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    Court: Appeal can't stop removal of life support

    Terri Schiavo's feeding tube may be removed despite her parents' plan to appeal to the state high court.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2001

    An appellate court ruled Wednesday that Terri Schiavo's husband may remove her feeding tube at 1 p.m. April 20 even though her parents continue to ask the state's high court to keep her alive.

    In a written order, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland said Schiavo's husband, Michael, can discontinue life support as the court previously ruled in February. Mrs. Schiavo sustained brain damage 11 years ago.

    Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, plan to ask the Florida Supreme Court today to postpone the date that Mrs. Schiavo can be taken off life support, their attorney Joseph Magri said.

    "I just can't understand why these judges are in such a hurry to starve my daughter to death," Schindler said. "I just don't understand. I just think it's cruel. Essentially, they treat coldblooded murderers with more kindness."

    Pinellas-Pasco Judge George Greer had ordered Schiavo to wait until 30 days after the Schindlers' appeals were exhausted before removing the tube, but the appellate court ruling supersedes that decision.

    Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said he was pleased with the ruling but knows that the fight is not over. Felos declined to discuss whether Michael Schiavo, who has been engaged to another woman for five years, is making any preparations for his wife's death.

    The Schindlers filed a motion last month with the Supreme Court, asking justices to take up the case even though they are not obligated to do so. That decision is likely to take weeks or even months to make -- well after the April 20 deadline.

    The Schindlers have been feuding with their son-in-law since 1993 and are 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, her doctors say.

    After an emotional trial last year, Greer agreed with Michael Schiavo that his wife would not want her life extended by a feeding tube. That decision was upheld by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in February.

    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. 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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