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United States Supreme Court denies Terri Schiavo appeal; Florida judge issues order against state taking custody

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday morning again refused to get involved in the Terri Schiavo case, apparently exhausting all legal options in federal court for Schiavo’s parents.

Without comment the justices refused to order the re-insertion of Schiavo’s feeding tube. The news came one day after Schiavo’s parents lost twice at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If Schiavo’s feeding tube is not re-inserted, she will die of starvation and dehydration within a matter of days.

Now, the only hope for Schiavo’s parents — Bob and Mary Schindler — seemingly rests with Florida state officials. But that option took a hit Thursday afternoon, when Florida Judge George Greer refused to let the Florida Department of Children & Families take Schiavo into custody. DCF had filed a motion the day before, saying new evidence showed that Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appeared at a news conference Wednesday, saying that a neurologist for the state’s adult protective services team had reviewed Schiavo’s records and believes that Schiavo “may have been misdiagnosed.” Instead of Schiavo being in a persistent vegetative state, Bush said, the neurologist believes she may be in a “state of minimal consciousness.”

“This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action,” Bush said. “Terri is now going on her sixth day without food or water. It is imperative that she be stabilized so that the adult protective services team can fulfill their statutory duty and thoroughly review all the facts surrounding her case.”

The neurologist, Bush said, works at the Mayo Clinic and has seen Schiavo in person, although he wasn’t allowed to diagnose her.

“If she is not in a persistent vegetative state … is it appropriate to take out a feeding tube?” Bush asked. “That’s the basic question that needs to be resolved.”

But even with the judge ruling against the state, Schiavo supporters hope that state officials will move in to take custody of Schiavo.

At a news conference late Wednesday a state attorney appearing alongside Bush said the Department of Children & Families “could take protective custody” of Schiavo.

Bush was asked specifically if officials were planning on moving in to take custody.

“That won’t be my decision,” he said.

Schiavo’s feeding tube was pulled March 18 following an order by Judge Greer.

Schiavo’s case has captured the nation’s attention in recent weeks. For years her parents and her husband have been in a legal struggle over whether she should live or die. While her husband, Michael Schiavo, says she would not want to live in her present state, no written request exists. Meanwhile, he has lived with his girlfriend, by whom he has fathered two children. Terri Schiavo’s parents say she has the capacity to swallow and could be fed orally if it were allowed. She is 41.

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