TAMPA, Fla. – A federal hearing ended without an immediate ruling Monday afternoon on whether to impose an emergency injunction to reinsert the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo (search), a severely brain-damaged Florida woman.
U.S. District Judge James Whittemore (search), who was nominated to the court in 1999 by former President Clinton, listened to arguments during the hearing he scheduled in Tampa that began about 3 p.m. EST Monday and ended about 5 p.m.
Whittemore was considering an appeal filed Monday by Schiavo's parents. The judge said he would not make an immediate ruling, and he gave no indication on when he might act on the request.
Monday marked Schiavo's third day without the feeding tube.
David Gibbs II, an attorney for Schiavo's parents Bob and Mary Schindler, arrived at federal district court in Tampa Monday morning and filed a request for an emergency injunction to continue their daughter's feeding.
The hearing followed an unprecedented act by Congress and President Bush to intervene in the Schiavo case.
The House, following a move by the Senate, passed a bill early Monday to let Schiavo's parents ask the judge to prolong their daughter's life by reinserting her feeding tube. President Bush signed the measure less than an hour later, just after 1 a.m. Monday.
"I opposed what Congress did," Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., told FOX News on Monday. "The courts determined that it was Terri’s will that she not continue in the persistent vegetative state that she’s in ... We disrespected Terri’s wishes."
Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., disagreed with Wexler, saying he supports the bill passed by Congress.
"Who are we to pass judgment as to what someone's quality of life is? That's not up to us to determine," Dreier told FOX News on Monday. "The parents have said, we would like to have a chance to step in and care for our daughter ... All we said is, let's let a federal judge give an opportunity for these parents to have their day in court."
Click here to see how your legislator voted on the bill to move Terri Schiavo's case to a federal court.
During the hours leading up to the hearing, a few demonstrators appeared outside the federal courthouse, saying they were praying for Whittemore. Only a few people stayed outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo has been a resident, while others said they planned to return during the afternoon.
Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo (search), said he was outraged that lawmakers and the president were intervening in the contentious right-to-die battle. He has fought for years with his wife's parents over whether she should be permitted to die or kept alive through the feeding tube.
"This is a sad day for Terri. But I'll tell you what: It's also is a sad day for everyone in this country because the United States government is going to come in and trample all over your personal, family matters," he told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday.
Michael Schiavo has not responded to repeated interview requests from The Associated Press.
The lawsuit alleges a series of rights violations, including that Terri Schiavo's religious beliefs were being infringed upon, that the removal of the feeding tube violated her rights and that she was not provided an independent attorney to represent her interests.
Outside the hospice where his daughter entered her fourth day without food or water, Bob Schindler told reporters "I'm numb, I'm just totally numb. This whole thing, it's hard to believe it."
A shout of joy was heard from the crowd outside the hospice when news of the House bill's passage came. Among those cheering was David Bayly, 45, of Toledo, Ohio: "I'm overjoyed to see the vote and see Terri's life extended by whatever amount God gives her."
When dawn broke Monday, fewer than a dozen demonstrators remained at the hospice, but the area bustled with television lights, cameras and reporters covering the saga.
The 41-year-old woman's feeding tube was removed Friday on a Florida judge's order. Schiavo could linger for one or two weeks if the tube is not reinserted — as has happened twice before, once on a judge's order and once after Gov. Jeb Bush signed "Terri's Law," which was later declared unconstitutional.
George Felos, a lawyer for Michael Schiavo, did not return repeated phone messages seeking comment Monday. The voicemail box of George Greer, the Florida circuit judge who presides over the case, was full and didn't accept messages.
Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly because of a possible potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. She can breathe on her own, but has relied on the feeding tube to keep her alive.
Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Her husband says she would not want to be kept alive in that condition, but her parents insist she could recover with treatment.
Bob Schindler visited his daughter late Sunday and said he noticed the effects of dehydration on her. He said she appeared to be getting tired, but eventually responded to his teasing by making a face at him.
"It tells us she's still with us," he said.
Brian Schiavo, Michael's brother, said he spent Sunday afternoon with his brother and Terri at the hospice, but Terri did not move or make any noises. "Anybody that thinks that she talks and responds, they need to have a mental health examination," he said.
The bill passed in Congress applies only to Schiavo and would allow a federal court to review the case. The House passed the bill on a 203-58 vote after calling lawmakers back for an emergency Sunday session. The Senate approved the bill Sunday by voice vote. President Bush cut short a visit to his Texas ranch to return to the White House.
"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life," President Bush said in a statement after signing the bill, which he did at 1:11 a.m. EST Monday.
A crowd of about 50 people prayed and sang outside the hospice on Sunday. One man played "Amazing Grace" on a trumpet, as a pickup truck pulled a trailer bearing 10-foot-high replicas of the stone Ten Commandments tablets and a huge working version of the Liberty Bell.
Gov. Bush, praised the actions of Congress. "We in government have a duty to protect the weak, disabled and vulnerable," he said in a statement Monday. "I appreciate the efforts of state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have taken this duty to heart."
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.