Florida Judge Blocks Removal of Schiavo's Feeding Tube

Pinellas Circuit Court Judge David Demers on Friday temporarily blocked the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, delaying his fellow judge George Greer’s order to begin the starvation process by 1 p.m. EST the same day.

Demers ordered that the feeding tube remain in place while Greer, who is presiding over the Schiavo case, deals with conflicting legal issues. That morning, the Senate Health Committee issued subpoenas requesting that Terri and her husband, Michael, appear at an official committee hearing on March 28. Earlier Friday, a House Committee began issuing congressional subpoenas to stop doctors from disconnecting her feeding tube.

According to Louise Clearly, a spokeswoman for the hospice where Terri Schiavo resides, doctors received a subpoena from the House late Friday morning. According to AP, however, officials did not disclose their next steps.

"At this time, we are monitoring developments and consulting with legal and ethical advisers to determine what to do," she said.

The lawyer for Terri’s parents aid he hoped the doctors will follow the Congressional request.

"It is a contempt of Congress to prevent or discourage someone from following the subpoena that's been issued," David Gibbs, the attorney for her parents, said. "What the U.S. Congress is saying is, `We want to see Terri Schiavo.'"

"The family is prayerfully excited about their daughter going before the United States Congress for the whole world to see how alive she is,” Gibbs added.

Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have been fighting an years-long battle against Michael over the fate of their daughter.

Michael, who now lives with his lover by whom he has fathered two children, has tried for ten years to remove Terri’s tube, claiming she did not want to be kept a live “artificially”; Terri has no such written directive.

The courts have generally been favorable to Michael; in 2000, Judge Greer ordered the starvation process to begin. Since then, the tube has been removed twice, and then reinserted as the battle for her life continued.

Last month, Greer gave a final deadline for the removal of Terri’s feeding tube for Friday, March 18 at 1 p.m. EST.

Since then, lawmakers in both the U.S. and Florida state congress scurried to pass bills that would keep Terri alive – at least until further investigations were made.

The U.S. Senate and House were not able to decide on a bill to pass, and thus resorted to subpoenas to buy more time. Both congressional bodies plan to meet on Monday for further deliberations.