TAMPA, Fla. – A judge Friday refused to order a new trial to determine whether a severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo (search) would want to be kept alive artificially.
The ruling in the long-running right-to-die case moves Schiavo's husband one step closer to having her feeding tube removed, but Circuit Judge George Greer in Clearwater blocked removal of the tube until at least Dec. 6 so Schiavo's parents can decide whether to appeal.
Also Friday, Gov. Jeb Bush (search) filed a motion in the Florida Supreme Court seeking a separate stay while his attorneys file an appeal in the case with the U.S. Supreme Court in the next 15 days.
Schiavo has been at the center of a bitter dispute between her husband and her parents. Bush signed a law designed to save Terri Schiavo's life after a court ruled against the parents, and the state Supreme Court struck it down.
Bob and Mary Schindler had asked Greer for the new trial to determine if their daughter, who was a practicing Roman Catholic when she collapsed and suffered brain damage 14 years ago, would still choose to have her feeding tube removed based on recent statements by Pope John Paul II (search) regarding people in vegetative states.
The pope said people in vegetative states still have the right to nutrition and health care.
Greer ruled in 2000 that Michael Schiavo could disconnect his wife's feeding tube. Michael Schiavo told the judge his wife had said before she fell ill that she would never want to be kept alive artificially.
An appeals court later ruled that although Terri Schiavo had been raised Catholic, she did not regularly attend Mass or have a religious adviser who could help the court determine her attitude about life support. Greer said in his ruling Friday that the pope's statements have not changed those facts.
George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, said he welcomed the ruling against a new trial but disagreed with the stay.
"She has a right, and she has had a right, to have her constitutional rights implemented," Greer said. "Just further delay is inappropriate."
David Gibbs, attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler, said Greer's ruling on the religious issue will be appealed, but added that the Schindlers were grateful for the stay "because it removed a cloud of fear and uncertainty."
"We are aggressively pursuing all the options with the ultimate goal of having Terri's life spared," Gibbs said.
The governor's office said it is seeking a separate stay because the legal battle between Terri Schiavo's husband and her parents is separate from the one between the governor and Michael Schiavo over the constitutionality of the governor's involvement in the case.