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Fla. judge denies stay in Terri Schiavo case, removal of tube scheduled for March 18

CLEARWATER, Fla. (BP)–Florida judge George W. Greer denied an emergency stay in the case of Terri Schiavo Feb. 25, scheduling the removal of her feeding tube for March 18 at 1 p.m. ET, pending any appellate decisions.

“Even though the court will not issue another stay,” Greer wrote, “the scheduling of a date certain for implementation of the February 11, 2000 ruling will give respondents ample time to appeal this denial, similar in duration to previous short-time stays granted for that purpose.”

Schiavo’s parents and husband have been in a legal tug-of-war in recent years, with her parents — Bob and Mary Schindler — wanting her kept alive and arguing that Schiavo’s husband, Michael Schiavo, should be removed as guardian. While Greer’s order is not what the Schindlers wanted, it does give them more time to explore their options.

Greer ruled in February 2000 that Schiavo’s feeding tube could be removed and since that time it has been removed twice — only to be restored after intervention by a court once and the Florida legislature the second time.

“Five years have passed since the issuance of the February 2000 order authorizing the removal of Theresa Schiavo’s nutrition and hydration,” Greer wrote, “and their appears to be no finality in sight to this process. The court, therefore, is no longer comfortable in continuing to grant stays pending appeal of orders….”

Terri Schiavo was found unconscious in her home in 1990, having suffered brain damage after her heart stopped. Some doctors have said she is in a persistent vegetative state. Her supporters disagree and say she is in a minimally conscious state.

Although Michael Schiavo says his wife would want to die, mo written request from Terri Schiavo exists. He lives with his girlfriend, with whom he has fathered two children.

The Vatican stepped into the debate Feb. 25, urging that Terri Schiavo be kept alive. She is Catholic.

“If Mr. Schiavo succeeds legally in causing the death of his wife, this not only would be tragic in itself, but would be a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States,” Cardinal Renato Martino said on Vatican Radio

“I would like to remind everyone in this connection, about all that the Holy Father has said in past days to the Pontifical Academy for Life, confirming that the quality of life is not interpreted as economic success, beauty and physical pleasure, but consists in the supreme dignity of the creature made in the image and likeness of God.

“No one can be the arbiter of life except God himself.”

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  • Joni B. Hannigan