A Florida judge has extended the stay he issued to keep Terri Schiavos feeding tubes from being removed indefinitely, giving her parents time to seek a new trial to determine whether their Roman Catholic daughter would have wanted to die or live given her brain-disabled state.
On Oct. 29, Judge George Greer of the Pinellas County Circuit Court revoked a stay he issued Oct. 22 that would have expired midnight Dec. 6 and extended the stay indefinitely. Greer rejected a motion filed by attorney George Felos on behalf of Terris estranged husband Michael Schiavo to cut short the stay and proceed with a Florida Supreme Court ruling that struck down Gov. Jeb Bushs Terris Law, allowing for the removal of Terris feeding tubes.
"[T]his court has consistently entered stays and allowed [the Schindlers] to orderly prosecute their appeal," Greer wrote in his second ruling. "The court is not persuaded to do otherwise now."
Felos told the Associated Press Michael Schiavo is planning to appeal the indefinite stay. To permit endless stays for endless appeals is simply a miscarriage of justice, he said.
Bob and Mary Schindler, Terris parents who have been fighting for 14 years to keep their daughter alive, praised the ruling.
"We are filled with a sense of relief and hope that our daughter's due process rights have been protected, they stated on the familys website (www.terrisfight.org). We hope to pursue Terri's civil and religious liberties through appeal and are grateful that the process had not been circumvented. We feel utterly confident that Terri would do the same for any member of our family if the tables were turned, and we know that protecting her life and her rights is the right thing to do."
Terri became severely brain-disabled after oxygen was deprived from her brain for a few minutes during a collapse in her house. Some doctors describe her as being in a persistent vegetative state but others say her condition can improve with aggressive therapy.
Michael Schiavo, who holds guardianship over Terri, claims that before she collapsed, she told him she would never want to be kept alive by artificial means.
However, the Schindlers deny Terri made such comments and said she would have wanted to live in spite of her condition. Under a new trial, the Schlinders want the court to re-examine the question of whether Terri would want to remove her feeding tubes after Pope John Paul II's recent pronouncement that feeding tubes should not be considered artificial life support and stated that it was a sin to deny sustenance to a person in a vegetative state.
Greer said in an Oct. 22 ruling he thought the Popes statement was not important enough to warrant a new trial. But he did give the Schindlers until midnight, Dec. 6, to appeal their case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.