WASHINGTON – The Senate continued Thursday to work vigorously with the House in trying to reach an agreement on legislation that would keep brain-damaged woman Terri Schiavo (search) alive.
The Senate has a narrowly focused bill that deals only with Schiavo, allowing her standing in federal court, which would immediately stay a Florida court's ruling permitting the withdrawal of Schiavo's feeding tube, now scheduled for Friday.
The House, however, passed a more broadly defined bill on Wednesday night. In it, "incapacitated" persons — defined as "a born individual who is presently incapable of making relevant decisions concerning the provision of food, fluids, or medical treatment under applicable law" — are given the right to take their case to federal court after the state court route has been exhausted. The House bill does not grant an automatic stay for Schiavo despite support from House leaders like Rep. Tom DeLay (search), the House Majority Leader.
"Terri Schiavo is alive. Congress has a legislative and moral duty to do what we can to protect her. Her life is being threatened, and we have it in our power to act on her behalf. Every human life deserves at least that much," DeLay of Texas said in a statement.
But even with an agreement between the Senate and House, sources told FOX News on Thursday that Sen. Ron Wyden (search), D-Ore., has "dug in" against passage of the Senate bill by unanimous consent.
Wyden's stance could force the Senate to move to cut off debate, setting up a process that could give Wyden and possibly other Democrats, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (search), an opportunity to express their opposition. However, other Democrats oppose letting Schiavo's case end at the state court.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has said he will hold up adjournment of the Senate for Easter recess, scheduled to begin Friday and last two weeks, until a vote is taken on this bill. Santorum is a staunch abortion opponent and is strongly against removal of Schiavo's tube.
"What is important is this body acts. If we don't act, there's a possibility that a woman who is alive today and everybody agrees that she is live today, while we're on recess, will have termination of all feeding and water. She'll be starved to death," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.
The debate comes as Schiavo's parents appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer (search) scheduled a hearing Thursday to consider a request from the state to halt the removal of the tube. Florida's Legislature is also taking action similar to the U.S. Legislature. A similar state law passed in 2003 was later declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
Schiavo, 41, has been at the center of a long and bitter court battle between her parents and her husband, who wants to remove her feeding tube so she can die.
Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped temporarily, and court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, says she told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents disagree that was her wish and say she could improve with proper treatment.
Greer has granted Michael Schiavo permission to remove the feeding tube, a ruling a state appeals court upheld Wednesday. Without the feeding tube, Terri Schiavo would likely die in one to two weeks.
FOX News' Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this story.