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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Florida steps in to hospital case
Michael Schiavo
Husband Michael Schiavo says he is acting on his wife's wishes
Legislators in the US state of Florida have intervened in the case of a severely brain-damaged woman, whose feeding tube was removed last week after a fierce legal wrangle over her fate.

The lower house of the Florida state legislature voted 68-23 to make it possible for Terri Schiavo, 39, to continue to be kept alive artificially, despite evidence from doctors that she will never recover.

The state senate was due on Tuesday to vote on the bill, which would give state Governor Jeb Bush the power to order doctors to resume feeding her.

Mrs Schiavo has been incapacitated since she collapsed at home in 1990.

She has been at the centre of a bitter court battle between her husband Michael, who says his wife told him she would never want to be kept alive, and her family, who maintain she can be rehabilitated.

The bill was tailored to Mrs Schiavo's case, and Governor Bush said in a statement that lawmakers understood "the unique and tragic circumstances" involved.

National controversy

If Mrs Schiavo's feeding tube is not reconnected, doctors expect her to die within the next week.

Governor Jeb Bush would have power to intervene when:
Someone is in a persistent vegetative state
The person left no living will
Feeding tubes have been removed
A family member has challenged the decision
Mrs Schiavo's parents had insisted she could be rehabilitated with therapy, adding that she had shown signs of trying to communicate.

However, doctors had testified in court that the noises and facial expressions Mrs Schiavo made were merely reflexes and that her brain is damaged beyond repair.

Mrs Schiavo's husband said the decision is in accordance with the wishes of his wife, who told him she would never want to be kept alive by tubes.

The case has caused national controversy; the Florida Supreme Court has twice declined to take on the case and the US Supreme Court has also refused to become involved.

Food stopped to US coma woman
15 Oct 03 |  Americas
Fight over Florida woman's fate
01 Oct 03 |  Americas

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