Judge Orders Terri Schiavo's Feeding Tube Removed; Attorneys Pledge Appeal

The presiding judge in the Terri Schiavo case ruled Friday that her feeding tube should be removed as scheduled, despite efforts by both chambers of Congress to keep her alive.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer refused a request from U.S. House attorneys to delay the removal of Terri’s tube, which keeps her alive.

On Friday, a U.S. House Committee issued five subpoenas – for Terri, her husband Michael, and three medical workers at her hospice – to appear before the House on March 25. The lawmakers requested the scheduled removal of Terri’s tube be delayed until the appearance. The Senate also issued subpoenas requesting Terri and her husband to appear on March 28.

After a brief session with the attorneys, Greer determined that the removal should go forward, saying he found no reason why the congressional committee should intervene.

"I have had no cogent reason why the (congressional) committee should intervene," Greer told attorneys in a conference call, adding that last-minute action by Congress does not invalidate years of court rulings.

Greer’s original ruling to remove Terri’s tube was in February, 2000.

Greer’s ruling come just one hour after a fellow Pinellas judge temporarily blocked the removal of Terri’s feeding tube. Judge David Demers at 1p.m. delayed the ruling to give Greer time to work out legal issues with the legislatures.

According to AP, there was no immediate word on when the tube might be removed, but House attorneys said they would immediately appeal the decision.

Terri’s supporters in Washington expressed disgust at Greer’s ruling, saying “this is not over” to reporters.

"Terry Schiavo is alive. She's as alive as you and I. As such, we have a moral obligation to protect and defend her," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Meanwhile, with the 1 p.m. deadline already passed and having received subpoenas by the House Committee, officials at the Hospice where Terri resides are still considering what to do.

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

David Gibbs, the attorney for Terri’s parents, said he hoped the officials would follow the subpoena.

"It is a contempt of Congress to prevent or discourage someone from following the subpoena that's been issued," said Gibbs. "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 is also filing a habeas corpus appeal to a federal judge in Tampa, to block the removal of Terri’s tube and to review the action of the state courts. Such habeas corpus appeals are usually used in death-penalty cases, and seek to require the government to justify its actions.

Outside the hospice, about three-dozen pro-lifers gathered to pray for Terri. According to AP, the protestors “fell to their knees”, immediately after hearing Greer’s ruling.

They also sang, “What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus," while holding messages on placards that read "Impeach Greer.com," a reference to a judge in the case, and "Execution — It's Not Just for the Guilty Anymore."