Court allows Schiavo stay to expire
Ruling could lead to removal of feeding from brain-damaged woman


AP | February 22, 2005

DUNEDIN, Florida (AP) -- A Florida appeals court allowed a stay to expire Tuesday that had blocked the husband of a severely brain-damaged woman from removing her feeding tube.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal offered no specific instructions in a one-page mandate issued in the case of Terri Schiavo, who was left brain damaged 15 years ago.

The ruling means Michael Schiavo could order his 41-year-old wife's tube removed within hours of the appeals court action, which ended the last judicial stay blocking the tube's removal.

But Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were seeking an emergency stay from a Pinellas County judge in hopes of keeping their daughter alive long enough for them to file additional legal pleadings in the case.

It would likely take several days for Terri Schiavo to die if the tube is pulled.

The appeals court's mandate allowed Michael Schiavo to act under previous court rulings in the years-long, highly emotional legal battle.

The appeals court has consistently upheld lower court rulings that Terri Schiavo had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, although she left no written directive.

In October 2003, she went without food or water for six days before Gov. Jeb Bush pushed through a new law letting him order the tube be reinserted.

The Florida Supreme Court later struck down his action as unconstitutional.

The long-running case has drawn international attention and debate, and rallied religious forces worldwide. Some doctors have ruled Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state; others believe she has some mental abilities.

Terri Schiavo, 41, left no written will when she collapsed in 1990 from what doctors said was a chemical imbalance that stopped her heart. She still breathes on her own but relies on the tube for food and water.

Her husband has said she never wanted to be kept alive artificially.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider a legal challenge to "Terri's Law," the measure pushed by Bush in 2003 to keep her alive after the courts had cleared the way for her death.

Last year, a judge issued an indefinite stay blocking the tube's removal pending the Schindlers' appeals.

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