An autopsy will be performed after Terri Schiavo dies to show the extent of her brain damage, her husband’s lawyer said.
The 41-year-old is now in her 12th day without food or water in a Florida hospice after repeated attempts by her parents to get courts to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube failed.
Terri’s husband and her parents have been locked in a long legal battle over whether to remove the feeding tube that has kept her alive since she suffered severe brain damage in 1990. Her husband favours removing the tube; the parents oppose it. The tube was removed on March 18.
George Felos, the lawyer for husband and guardian Michael Schiavo, said the chief medical examiner for Pinellas County, Dr John Thogmartin, had agreed to perform an autopsy.
He said her husband wants definitive proof showing the extent of her brain damage. Michael Schiavo contends his wife told him years ago she would not want to be kept alive artificially under such circumstances.
An attorney for Schiavo’s parents, David Gibbs, said her family also wants an autopsy. “We would certainly support and encourage an autopsy to be done, with all the unanswered questions,” he said.
Felos said he had visited Schiavo for more than an hour on Monday and said she looked “very peaceful. She looked calm”.
“I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever,” Felos said, although he added her breathing seemed “a little on the rapid side” and her eyes were sunken.
The parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, pressed again for US President George Bush, Congress and the president’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to intervene to have the feeding tube reinserted. A small group of supporters protested outside the White House gates yesterday.
The president’s aides have said they have run out of legal options.
Civil rights leader Rev Jesse Jackson planned to visit Terri today as a guest of her parents.
As Schiavo drew closer to death, extra police officers blocked the road in front of the hospice in Pinellas Park, and an elementary school next door was closed so students could avoid the crowd.