CLEARWATER, Fla. – Acting on orders from Gov. Jeb Bush (search), a hospital began giving fluids to a brain-damaged woman Tuesday, six days after her feeding tube was removed in one of the nation's longest and most bitter right-to-die battles (search).
A judge later rejected a request by the woman's husband to overturn the governor's order.
Terri Schiavo (search) was being rehydrated intravenously after the Legislature rushed to pass a bill designed to save her life, according to her parents' lawyer. Schiavo's parents have fought to keep her alive. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, says she would rather die.
An ambulance took Schiavo from a Pinellas Park hospice to Morton Plant Hospital after Bush issued his order to resume feeding her. A crowd cheered outside as she left.
"I'm ecstatic she's being fed again," said her brother, Bob Schindler Jr. "I don't think I can describe the way I feel right now. It's been unreal."
Hours earlier, the Senate voted 23-15 for legislation to save Schiavo. Within minutes, the House voted 73-24 to send the bill to Bush. The governor signed it into law and issued his order about an hour later.
"It's restored my belief in God," said Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler.
Michael Schiavo, meanwhile, was "deeply troubled, angry and saddened that his wife's wishes have become a political pingpong," said his attorney, George Felos. "He, as many others, is absolutely stunned at the course of events."
Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed last Wednesday. Doctors said the 39-year-old woman would die within a week to 10 days without nutrition and water.
Suzanne Carr, the woman's sister, called lawmakers' action "a miracle, an absolute miracle."
Her mother, Mary Schindler, broke down and cried after the Senate vote.
Felos scrambled to try to stop Bush's order. He filed a request for an injunction, but Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer denied it on technical grounds. Felos refiled the request and State Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird also refused to grant it.
"We won. Terri won," her father said after the ruling.
Felos will have five days to file additional arguments with the judge and the state will have five days after that to respond. The judge will then hold another hearing.
"It is simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process," Felos said. "Just because Terri Schiavo is not conscious doesn't mean she doesn't have dignity."
Although the Legislature acted swiftly, even some who supported the bill expressed concern about it.
"I hope, I really do hope we've done the right thing," said Senate President Jim King, a Republican. "I keep on thinking 'What if Terri didn't really want this done at all?' May God have mercy on all of us."
Schiavo never signed a living will, which lets people exercise their right to die should they become comatose and need machines or feeding tubes to keep them alive.
But her husband says she told him she would never want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents said she never told them of the wish.
"Let us err on the part of not condemning this woman to a painful death that she can feel," said Republican Sen. Anna Cowin.
Opponents said government was stepping in where it had no business being.
"How dare this Legislature and this governor substitute its judgment for the family's?" said Sen. Steven Geller, a Democrat.
Earlier in Tampa, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday denied a request by an advocacy group that Schiavo be kept alive so it could investigate whether removal of the tube was abusive.
The bill sent to Bush was designed to be as narrow as possible. It is limited to cases in which the patient left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state, has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed and where a family member has challenged the removal.
Court-appointed doctors have described Schiavo as being in a vegetative state, caused when her heart stopped in 1990 from a suspected chemical imbalance.
Bush last week promised the woman's parents that he would help them if he could find a way.
The Florida Supreme Court has twice refused to hear the case, and it also has been rejected for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, a Florida appeals court again refused to block removal of the tube.
Felos said he believes the legislation is unconstitutional. It is Terri Schiavo's right under the Florida Constitution to not be kept alive artificially, and the courts have affirmed that, he said.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Stephen Grimes said it is not clear whether the law will be upheld.
"It presents a new legal issue that I've never heard of," Grimes said.