As Terri Schiavo’s health waned, her parents pressed on today to restore the brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube after the nation’s highest court and judges in Florida defeated their latest legal appeals.
Bob and Mary Schindler held onto the slim hope that state Governor Jeb Bush - the president’s brother – would somehow find a way to intervene or a federal judge who had turned them down before would see things their way.
Bush warned, however, that he was running out of options.
“We’re minute by minute right now. But it doesn’t look like we have much left,” said Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo’s sister.
Terri Schiavo, 41, had been without food or water for almost seven days and was showing signs of dehydration – flaky skin, dry tongue and lips, and sunken eyes, according to lawyers and friends of the Schindlers.
Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of the tube being pulled.
The woman’s husband, Michael Schiavo, says his wife would not want to be kept alive artificially, and he has been backed by years of court rulings affirming doctors’ diagnoses that Terri Schiavo lives in a persistent vegetative state.
The Schindlers appeared before a federal judge in Tampa last night to make another emergency request that the feeding tube be reattached while they pursue claims that Schiavo’s religious and due-process rights were violated.
Judge James Whittemore previously rejected a similar request and said he would work through the night to issue his new ruling.
“It’s very frustrating. Every minute that goes by is a minute that Terri is being starved and dehydrated to death,” said her brother, Bobby Schindler, who said seeing her was like looking at “pictures of prisoners in concentration camps”.
Michael Schiavo’s brother, Brian, strongly disagreed with that assessment, saying Terri “does look a little withdrawn” but insisting she was not in pain. He added that starvation is simply “part of the death process”.
A lawyer for Michael Schiavo said he hoped the woman’s parents and the governor would finally give up their fight.
“We believe it’s time for that to stop as we approach this Easter weekend and that Mrs Schiavo be able to die in peace,” lawyer George Felos said.