Schiavo's parents persist in efforts to keep her alive


Published: Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 10:24 p.m.
CLEARWATER - Terri Schiavo should have been represented by her own attorney through all of the legal proceedings over whether she should live or die, a lawyer for her family argued Friday in the latest legal effort to keep the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube intact.
Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, stepped up the public pressure on her husband, Michael, to abandon his yearslong effort to remove the feeding tube to let her die.
With the Schindlers' legal options dwindling, their attorney, David Gibbs, asked Circuit Judge George Greer to let him proceed with a motion arguing that Terri Schiavo's due-process rights were violated because she has never had her own attorney. On that basis, Gibbs wants the judge to void the 2000 order giving Michael Schiavo permission to remove the tube.
"I urge the court not to rush," Gibbs said. "There is not reversibility once Terri Schiavo has been starved and dehydrated to death."
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, called the motion "outrageous" and "an abuse of the legal system." He told Greer that the Schindlers are trying to delay the case by repeatedly arguing the same issues, and he urged the judge not to let the motion continue.
Greer gave Gibbs until Feb. 7 to submit more written legal arguments. He said he would decide a few days later whether the court will proceed with the due-process issue.
A stay imposed by Greer is still in effect pending the outcome of an issue with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, so it remained unclear Friday when Terri Schiavo's feeding tube might be removed if her family is unsuccessful in blocking it.
Terri Schiavo was 26 when her heart stopped beating temporarily because of a chemical imbalance. She can breathe on her own but depends on a feeding tube for water and nourishment. Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state, which her parents also dispute.
The now 41-year-old woman left no written directive and her husband told Greer in the 2000 trial that she had expressed a desire not to be kept alive artificially.
Her parents doubt she had any such end-of-life wishes and believe her condition could improve with therapy, which they say her husband has withheld.
The Schindlers on Friday again pleaded publicly with Michael Schiavo to give up the battle and allow them to care for Terri. They offered to allow him to collect any proceeds from her estate and any book or movie deals that may come out of the case.
"He can go his way, and we'll go our way," Bob Schindler said. "The case will be over."
Felos said that won't happen. "He has been in this case from the beginning because he made a promise to his wife" that he wouldn't keep her alive artificially, Felos said.
The Schindlers had already been a dealt a loss this week when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a legal challenge to "Terri's Law," the measure pushed by Gov. Jeb Bush in October 2003 to keep Terri Schiavo alive after the courts had cleared the way for her death.
Besides Friday's action, the family has another motion before Greer to remove Michael Schiavo as Terri's legal guardian.

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