PINELLAS PARK, Fla. – Standing outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo (search) lives, family and supporters of the severely brain-damaged woman on Wednesday kicked off a campaign of lobbying and protests hoping to block her husband from removing the feeding tube keeping her alive.
With legal options dwindling, the woman's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, turned to the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue (search), Randall Terry. He announced a plan to again lobby Gov. Jeb Bush (search) to intervene and also picket the home and workplace of Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, who wants to stop his wife's feedings as early as Tuesday so she can die.
"We will fight for Terri with every ounce of strength we have left," Bob Schindler said. "And we still have many ounces."
Michael Schiavo (search) says his 41-year-old wife who suffered severe brain damage 15 years ago would not want to be kept alive artificially; her parents contend she had no such death wish and could get better with therapy.
The case has drawn international attention and rallied right-to-life and religious forces worldwide.
Terry said he will urge supporters to start an "avalanche" of calls and e-mails to Bush and lawmakers urging them to intervene. He said protesters also plan to picket the capital building in Tallahassee, the Pinellas County Courthouse and Michael Schiavo, who is being urged to drop the effort to stop his wife's feeding and turn her over to her family.
"The gloves are coming off with Michael Schiavo," Terry said, adding that he hopes the protests will "wear down his will."
George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, said his client will not be deterred.
"All I can say is that I know Mr. Schiavo is dedicated to carrying out his wife's wishes, and I believe he is going to do that, notwithstanding these threats," Felos said.
The street out front of the hospice in Pinellas Park near St. Petersburg was the site of large vigil in October 2003, the last time Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed. The Florida Legislature intervened after six days that time with a hastily passed law authorizing Gov. Jeb Bush to have the feedings resumed.
The Florida Supreme Court subsequently ruled that law unconstitutional.
Terry contended Wednesday that Bush has the constitutional authority to intervene to save the life of a disabled person, but the governor's attorneys advised him in 2003 that he had no such power.
"The governor has never stopped looking for ways he can save Terri within the confines of the law," said his spokesman, Jacob DiPietre.
The Schindlers' legal options are running out. Their attorneys, who did not return phone calls Wednesday, are still working on some appeals but state courts have consistently ruled against them.
They will ask a judge next week to extend a stay that is set to expire Tuesday so they can have more time to file appeals and continue to persuade a judge to remove Michael Schiavo as his wife's legal guardian.