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Appeals court again declines to intervene in Schiavo case

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (BP)–A federal appeals court March 30 again refused to order the re-insertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, dashing hopes of pro-lifers who had thought an 11th-hour miracle could be on the horizon.

The court, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, had temporarily provided Schiavo supporters a reason for optimism.

Schiavo’s parents received a legal victory just after midnight March 30, when the court announced it would allow another emergency appeal to be filed that could save the 41-year-old woman’s life. But upon reviewing the petition, the court announced during the afternoon that it would not intervene in the case.

Schiavo has been without nutrition and hydration since March 18 and could die at any time, doctors say.

The petition before the appeals court, submitted by attorney David Gibbs, had said federal judges who previously rejected requests to have Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted violated a Supreme Court precedent requiring them to consider the full record of the case, not just the procedural history from the state court, according to CNN.com.

In the petition, Gibbs said he could prove to the federal court that “the ‘evidence’ supporting Terri’s alleged wishes is not credible, and that a reasonable fact finder would hold — under any standard of proof — that her wishes were to the contrary.”

The petition repeated the contention that the testimony of Terri Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, was not credible enough for a court to decide such a question of life or death. Michael Schiavo says his wife would not want to live in her present state, although Terri Schiavo’s parents — Bob and Mary Schindler — disagree. No written request from Schiavo herself exists. Michael’s brother and sister-in-law were leading witnesses in the hearing which decided Terri’s fate.

“As a matter of constitutional law, the life of Terri Schiavo cannot be ordered to be taken on the kind of oral testimony provided in this case,” Gibbs argued in the petition, CNN reported.

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MOTHER PLEADS — Flanked by family members late March 29 outside the hospice where her daughter is now in her 13th day of being starved to death, Mary Schindler urged Michael Schiavo and Jody Centonze, Michael’s girlfriend, to give Terri back to her.

“Michael and Jody, you have your own children,” Schindler said briefly. “Please, please give my daughter back to me.”

SANTORUM STANDS BY SCHINDLERS — Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., visited with Terri’s parents March 29 and prayed with them outside of Schiavo’s hospice. He told reporters he was in the area to attend a Social Security forum and felt compelled to stop by.

“This is about trying to do right by a woman who legally is being wronged by the system,” Santorum said. More than a week earlier he took a leading role in passing the federal law that allowed Schiavo’s parents, who raised their children in Pennsylvania, to ask the federal courts to look at the case.

Despite the fact it’s been almost two weeks since Terri has received food or water, Santorum said he hasn’t given up and has made a lot of calls to a lot of people.

“My feeling is she is still alive and to keep trying,” he said. “We’ve been trying all avenues.”

LAURA BUSH SPEAKS — First lady Laura Bush told the Associated Press March 29 the government rightly intervened on Schiavo’s behalf.

“It is a life issue that really does require government to be involved,” Bush said. “I think it’s an issue that, you know, everyone is concerned about and interested in.”

Bush commented on the Schiavo case aboard a plane bound for Afghanistan, where she was to promote education and women’s rights.

“I’m sorry for the family that it has to be so public,” Bush said. “This is such a very, very difficult time for them and for everyone who watches Terri.”

Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old woman at the center of an international debate over euthanasia, collapsed in her home in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.

Several years after her collapse, Michael Schiavo, who has lived with another woman for nearly a decade and has fathered two children with her, halted rehabilitation efforts and sought to end his wife’s life, saying she would wish to die.

Terri’s parents have said their daughter has never been given an opportunity to improve through intensive rehabilitative efforts and that Michael Schiavo simply gave up too soon and should have been removed as Terri’s guardian. They say Terri would never want to die by starvation and dehydration and that the practice is also against the teachings of Terri’s Catholic faith.

Her feeding tube was removed by order of Florida Judge George Greer, who also ruled she could not receive any nourishment or liquids by mouth.

Family members have said she is “failing” but appears to have a remarkable will to live.

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