Terri Schiavo's Looming Deadline

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," February 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: A legal setback for a Florida family trying to keep their daughter alive. Terri Schiavo (search) has been in a vegetative state for 15 years. Her family lost an appeal Monday and now there are just hours until a court order could lead to the removal of the feeding tube that keeps Terri alive. Terri's husband has been steadfast in his effort to take her off life support. His attorney went "On the Record" last week:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Schiavo made a resolute promise to his wife when she said, honey, please don't keep me alive like this with tubes if something like that happened to me and despite the threats of protests and picketing, he's resolute to carry out his wife's wishes and he's not going to be intimidated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Terri's family is making a last-minute plea to save her life. Her brother and his attorney appeared on this show last week:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: She's trying to speak to us right now. When we go into the room she's making noises but you have to understand, she's had no therapy or rehabilitation in 12 years now and Greta, it's not just my parents and me saying this. We have close to a dozen doctors that are on record that are all saying that what Mr. Felos says is untrue, that she can be helped. She is trying to speak and she can be taught to eat again and she won't even need the feeding tube if Michael and the courts would just permit her to have rehabilitation and therapy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us from Tampa is David Gibbs, the attorney for the Schindler family. Welcome.

DAVID GIBBS, ATTY FOR TERRI SCHIAVO'S FAMILY: Greta, welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: How is the Schindler family tonight? Because Tuesday, 1:00 p.m., the judge could permit the order removing the tube?

GIBBS: They are devastated. As any mother and father would be at the prospect that their daughter, who they love dearly, would be starved to death in this country. They are incredibly saddened. They are shocked. They are still hopeful. There's a number of legal appeals that are pending and they are just asking the world to be in prayer for them and their family during this incredibly difficult time.

VAN SUSTEREN: David, this has been in litigation for a number of years. I think seven, maybe more. She's been in this state for about 15 years. What is it legally that there is left to do between now and 1:00 p.m. tomorrow?

GIBBS: Well, 1:00 p.m. tomorrow is when an appeals court issues its mandate. We have emergency stays and a number of appeals pending. And we're still optimistic that the courts will review this matter while all of these issues are ultimately adjudicated. We asked the opposing counsel to be kind enough not to put the family through this jeopardy. Please understand, wondering whether they're going to be able to say goodbye, wondering whether they're going to be able to see Terri again, but they refuse to do that.

And Greta, we would issue on behalf of the family an invitation to yourself or other responsible journalists to come in and see Terri. When you see Terri on the videotape, she comes off as far more alive in person, far more vibrant, far more communicative and we're just sadly disappointed that the guardian would in a sense hide her from the public at large, hide her from the media and not let the world see how alive Terri Schiavo is.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you actually seen Terri, David?

GIBBS: Yes, ma'am, I have been in to see her personally. I've watched her respond to her mother and father. I have watched her make different noises. I've watched her curl up at her dad's moustache. I watched her get upset when you turn the music off. I was Greta, candidly, quite shocked at how alive Terri was. And it's one of those profound things you see it in a video and that's two dimensional, but when you're in the room and she lights up and gets excited to see her mom, it's shocking to me to think that we would starve to death a human being that's that alive.

VAN SUSTEREN: What gives you reason for optimism David? When you get down to the wire and we're down to the wire at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, as you sort of run out of issues, what issue is left for the court to consider?

GIBBS: There's a number, but let me give you two key [issues]. Number one, I don't believe Terri has had due process. She's never been to court. The judge that's made these rulings has never seen her. She's never had independent counsel and I think that if Ted Bundy (search), as a mass murderer gets lawyer and get access to court, Terri Schiavo as a disabled lady should get the same.

I'm also optimistic that with the medical advances even over the last couple of years: Sarah Scantlin (search) is now talking in Kansas; New York Times reports out of New York that people with significant brain injuries can sense their family. They can sense joy. They know what's happening and we're going to ask the court to at least test Terri. Let's get accurate medicine before we do the irreversible act of starving her to death.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me ask you the impossible question. As I understand the hearing is actually scheduled for Wednesday at 2:45.

GIBBS: That's correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: But 1:00 p.m. Tuesday is when the mandate's going to issue, though the hearing isn't for another 24 hours. Tell me what you realistically and what are the odds that this is going to happen?

GIBBS: I think that it would be unconscionable for the guardian and his lawyer to proceed to remove the food and water for 24 hours with a court hearing scheduled.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think is going to happen? I know you think it's unconscionable.

GIBBS: They have indicated publicly they're going to do it. We're hopeful that they would show some kindness to Terri and the family. And we have emergency motions pending. We're hopeful that the courts will stop them from doing these unkind acts while there are pending matters before the court.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And [there's] an odd 24-hour gap between when it could happen and when the hearing is. David, thank you very much.

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