Judge: No Immediate Ruling on Schiavo Case

After a two-hour-long hearing that has kept the nation at its heels, a federal judge Monday refused to make an immediate ruling on whether to re-insert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

The parents of Schiavo, Bob and Mary Schindler, had pleaded with the U.S. District Judge James Whittemore to reinsert their daughter’s feeding tube on Monday, after both chambers of the U.S. Congress and President George Bush signed into law a bill could possibly save Terri’s life.

Under the new measure, which applies only to the Terri Schiavo case, the Schindlers have the opportunity to appeal the Pinellas Court Judge George Greer’s ruling to remove Terri’s tube at a federal court. The bill essentially gives the federal court a chance to fully review the facts in a case that left so many questions unanswered.

During the hearing, David Gibbs, the Schindlers’ attorney, said forcing Terri to die by starvation would be considered euthanasia – a practice considered as “a mortal sin” under her Roman Catholic beliefs.

"It is a complete violation to her rights and to her religious liberty, to force her in a position of refusing nutrition," Gibbs said to the judge.

However, the judge remained unmoved, saying he thinks “you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood" of the parents' lawsuit succeeding.

Meanwhile, opposite to the Schindlers, an attorney for Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo told Judge Whittemore that reinserting Terri’s tube would violate her civil rights.

"Every possible issue has been raised and re-raised, litigated and re-litigated," attorney George Felos said. "It's the elongation of these proceedings that have violated Mrs. Schiavo's due process rights."

Michael Schiavo, who currently lives with his girlfriend by whom he has fathered two children, claims his 41-year-old wife did not wish to be kept alive artificially. Though Michael does not have any proof or written directive supporting his claim, Pinellas judge Greer sided with him and ordered Terri’s tube removed.

Friday’s removal of Terri’s tube marked the third time she had begun her “dying process” since Greer’s original ruling to remove her tube five years ago. On the two previous occasions, the tube was reinserted – once by a court order, and again through the “Terri’s law” that was pushed through by Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Meanwhile, Whittemore gave no indication on when he might act on the Schindlers’ request to review the entire case, leaving pro-life supporters bitterly shocked – Monday marked the fourth day Terri’s had been starved and dehydrated.

Doctors say death by starvation and dehydration is a painful process that may take up to two weeks to complete. In most states, it is a crime to intentionally starve household animals to death.