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Published: Monday, 3/21/2005

<font face='verdana' size='1' color =#CC0000><b> * New * </b></font> Terri Schiavo hearing wraps up without decision

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. Armed with a new law rushed through Congress over the weekend, the attorney for Terri Schiavo s parents pleaded with a judge today to order the brain-damaged woman s feeding tube reinserted. U.S. District Judge James Whittemore did not immediately make a ruling after the two-hour hearing, and he gave no indication on when he might act on the request.

The hearing came three days after the feeding tube was removed.

Doctors have said Schiavo could survive one to two weeks without the tube.

During the hearing, David Gibbs, an attorney for the parents, said that forcing Terri Schiavo to die by starvation and dehydration would be a mortal sin under her Roman Catholic beliefs.

It is a complete violation to her rights and to her religious liberty, to force her in a position of refusing nutrition, Gibbs told Whittemore.

But the judge told Gibbs that he still wasn t completely sold on the argument. I think you d be hard-pressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood of the parents lawsuit succeeding, the judge said.

George Felos, one of the attorneys for husband Michael Schiavo, told Whittemore that the case has been aired thoroughly in state courts and that forcing the 41-year-old severely brain damaged woman to endure another re-insertion of the tube would violate her civil rights.

Every possible issue has been raised and re-raised, litigated and re-litigated, Felos said. It s the elongation of these proceedings that have violated Mrs. Schiavo s due process rights.

Terri Schiavo s feeding tube was removed at 1:45 p.m. Friday, the third such time she had begun what Felos described as her dying process. On both previous occasions, the tube was re-inserted by court order.

/Read more in tomorrow's Blade and toledoblade.com.

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