Court Refuses to Block Schiavo Tube Removal

A state appeals court Wednesday refused to block the removal of Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube later this week, shifting the focus in the right-to-die dispute to the Legislature.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland turned down a request by Bob and Mary Schindler for a delay while they pursue further appeals, and for a new trial on their daughter's fate.

The tube is scheduled to be removed on Friday at 1 p.m.

The appeals court said the issues that the Schindlers raised were not new and had been dealt with by numerous courts.

"Not only has Mrs. Schiavo's case been given due process, but few, if any similar cases have ever been afforded this heightened level of process," Chief Judge Chris Altenbernd said.

Separately, the court set deadlines for later this month in an appeal from Florida's social services agency, which wants a 60-day stay to investigate allegations Terri Schiavo was abused by her husband. A judge turned down the request for a stay last Thursday.

Florida legislators, meanwhile, pressed ahead with bills to block Michael Schiavo (search) from having his wife's feeding tube removed. The Senate and House were scheduled to consider competing bills Thursday, but negotiators said it would be difficult to reconcile them in time.

"We need to able to talk long and hard about this," said state Rep. Shelley Vana (search).

The Schindlers' attorney, Barbara Weller, said she was not surprised by the ruling. She would not say if it would be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo's lawyer, did not immediately return calls.

Schiavo, 41, suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped, and court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband says she told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents dispute that, and say she could get better.

Late last month, Circuit Judge George Greer granted Michael Schiavo permission to remove the feeding tube. After that, it could take a week or two for Terri Schiavo to die.