Schiavo's Parents Appeal to Supreme Court; Florida Senate Rejects Feeding-Tube Legislation

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The family of Terri Schiavo appealed to the Supreme Court last night after being turned down twice yesterday by a federal appeals court, racing against the clock to save her life.

The Florida state Senate defeated a last-minute bill aimed at preventing Mrs. Schiavo's death by starvation and dehydration.

"This is an extraordinary and sad case," President Bush said, after a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta yesterday turned down the plea of Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to have a feeding tube reinserted.

The Schindlers next appealed to the full circuit court but were turned down again, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court, which has declined to step into the case in the past, as their court of the last resort.In the emergency filing that will first be considered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Schindlers say their daughter faces an unjust death without strong proof of her consent, violating her due process and religious freedom.

The filing also argues that Congress, which quickly passed a bill last weekend that gave federal courts authority to review the case anew, intended to require Mrs. Schiavo's tube to be reinserted at least temporarily - a position supported by a filing earlier yesterday from U.S. House attorneys.

"When I close my eyes at night, all I can see is Terri's face in front of me, dying, starving to death," Mrs. Schindler said outside her daughter's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla. "Please, someone out there, stop this cruelty. Stop the insanity. Please let my daughter live."

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush raced to help, urging the state Legislature to pass legislation to save Mrs. Schiavo's life, and indicating that if necessary, the state of Florida would take Mrs. Schiavo, who has been without food or water since Friday, into protective custody.

"There are several avenues being pursued," Jeb Bush said yesterday afternoon, before the Florida Senate defeated on a 21-18 vote a bill to bar patients being denied food and water unless they expressed their wishes in writing, which Mrs. Schiavo did not.

Jeb Bush noted that a prominent neurologist contradicts the diagnoses that Mrs. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, saying instead she is in a state of "minimal consciousness."

"This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action," the governor said.

The custody request was heard by Judge George Greer, who has presided over the case for several years and consistently refused the Schindlers' attempts to save their daughter. Judge Greer planned to decide by noon today on whether the case would go forward.

The 41-year-old Mrs. Schiavo suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage in 1990, but can breathe on her own. …