Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Breaking News: Appeals Almost Exhausted for Terri Schiavo


ATLANTA - The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied a request by Terri Schiavo's parents that it rehear her case, leaving only the U.S. Supreme Court as a last judicial option.

In Florida, meanwhile, Gov. Jeb Bush tried to build support for Schiavo's parents by saying new evidence suggests her condition was misdiagnosed, even though doctors have said for years that Schiavo is severely brain damaged and in a persistent vegetative state.

Republicans in the Florida Senate were trying to pass a law that would prohibit patients like Schiavo from being denied food and water if they didn’t express their wishes in writing.

The 10-2 ruling by the entire federal appeals court came just 12 hours after a three-judge panel from the court ruled against the parents. Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, has consistently convinced courts that she would not have wanted to be kept alive in her condition.

The ruling was the latest legal blow for Schiavo’s parents as their 41-year-old daughter’s life hangs in balance. Doctors removed Schiavo's feeding tube on Friday and they have said that she could survive one to two weeks without water and nutrients.

The three-judge panel, in a 2-1 ruling issued overnight, said the parents “failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims” that the feeding tube should be reinserted immediately. The severely brain-damaged woman began her fifth full day without the tube, which has kept her alive for more than a decade.

"We also conclude that the district court’s carefully thought out decision to deny temporary relief in these circumstances is not an abuse of discretion," Judges Ed Carnes and Frank Hull wrote in the majority opinion.

“There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo,” the ruling said. “We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law.”

In his dissent, Judge Charles Wilson said Schiavo’s “imminent” death would end the case before it could be fully considered. “In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube,” he wrote.

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