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Published: Saturday, 3/26/2005

Attorneys: Schiavo legal fight nears end

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - After another round of devastating losses in the courts, Terri Schiavo's parents kept watch over their dying daughter today as their attorneys acknowledged the tenacious fight to reconnect the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube was nearing an end.

Attorneys for Bob and Mary Schindler decided not to file another motion with a federal appeals court, essentially ending their effort to persuade federal judges to intervene something allowed by an extraordinary law passed by Congress.

But at least three more appeals loomed by the Schindlers and Gov. Jeb Bush. Schindler attorney David Gibbs III appealed an unfavorable ruling today with a last-ditch plea to the Florida Supreme Court to get the feeding tube reinserted.

"Time is moving quickly and it would appear most likely ... that Terri Schiavo will pass the point that she will be able to recover over this Easter weekend," Gibbs said. He filed an emergency petition arguing that a Pinellas County judge ignored new evidence of Schiavo's wishes and her medical condition.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer rejected the family's latest motion Saturday. The family claimed Schiavo tried to say "I want to live" hours before her tube was removed, saying "AHHHHH" and "WAAAAAAA" when asked to repeat the phrase.

Doctors have said her previous utterances weren't speech, but were involuntary moans consistent with someone in a vegetative state. Greer agreed.

Scott Schiavo, the brother of Schiavo's husband, Michael, said the family was pleased to see the Schindlers' efforts nearing an end.

"He knows in his heart he is doing the right thing, he is doing what Terri wanted," Scott Schiavo said. "He's having a hard time understanding why people are fighting him on this, why they are calling him a murderer. It's very tough on him."

Michael Schiavo has said she has no hope for recovery and wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially. The Schindlers believe their daughter could improve and say she laughs, cries, responds to them and tries to talk.

Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of her feeding tube being pulled, which was done March 18 after Greer sided with her husband. Her body wracked by dehydration, attorneys for her parents said she may not last through the weekend.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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