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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 02:47 GMT
Judge silent on US feed-tube case
Protester outside Mrs Schiavo's hospice
Mrs Schiavo's parents and their supporters want to keep her alive
A US federal judge has heard a request by the parents of a severely brain-damaged woman to keep her alive.

Judge James Whittemore made no ruling and gave no indication of when he would decide whether to reinsert Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

The move came after President George W Bush signed emergency legislation allowing another review of the case.

Mrs Schiavo, 41, who has been in a vegetative state since 1990, has had no food or water since Friday.

"I will not tell you where, how or when it will be," Judge Whittemore said of his ruling at the end of a two-hour hearing on Monday.

A lawyer for Mrs Schiavo's parents implored the judge to act quickly.

Split family

The legislation was passed by both houses of Congress after an impassioned debate and approved by the president in the early hours of Monday.

The White House said the law was narrowly tailored and not intended as a precedent for Congress to step into battles over the fate of seriously ill patients.

It's is a sad day for everyone in this country because the US government is going to come in and trample all over your personal, family matters
Michael Schiavo

"The presumption, particularly in a situation like this, where you have someone that is at the mercy of others, ought to be in favour of life. And that's the president's view," Mr Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Mrs Schiavo's father, Bob Schindler, who says his daughter is responsive, told reporters he had given her the news.

"I told her if she was ready, to take a ride to get some breakfast, and she gave a great smile," he said.

Mrs Schiavo's parents have spent seven years fighting to keep her alive, saying she can still lead a fulfilling life.

Court-appointed doctors have said she will not recover.

Her husband Michael, her legal guardian, petitioned to let her die.

File photo of Terri Schiavo
Terri Schiavo has been in a vegetative state for 15 years

Mr Schiavo, who has since started a family with another woman, says his wife would not want to be kept alive in her current condition.

"This is a sad day for Terri," he told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.

"But I'll tell you what: It's also is a sad day for everyone in this country because the United States government is going to come in and trample all over your personal family matters."

'Substantial doubts'

Congress intervened after a Florida judge allowed the tube to be removed at her husband's request.

Feb 1990: Mrs Schiavo collapses
May 1998: Mr Schiavo files petition to remove feeding tube, triggering legal battle
Feb 2000: Court rules to remove feeding tube
Oct 2003: Florida's lower house passes "Terri's Law", allowing governor to order doctors to feed Mrs Schiavo
Sept 2004: Florida Supreme Court strikes down law
Dec 2004: Case goes to US Supreme Court
Jan 2005: Court rejects petition
Mar 2005: Florida court again allows removal of tube

Mrs Schiavo is expected to die within two weeks unless the court ruling is overturned and the tube reinserted.

She lapsed into her present state after her heart stopped beating temporarily in 1990.

The case has galvanised activists from both sides of the euthanasia debate.

The feeding tube has been removed twice before. Both times campaigners had it replaced.

Terri Schiavo's case has divided opinion in the US

US courts and politicians collide
21 Mar 05 |  Americas
US patient's feeding tube removed
19 Mar 05 |  Americas
Judge rules on US hospital fight
25 Feb 05 |  Americas
Extension in US right-to-die case
23 Feb 05 |  Americas
Court backs Florida right to die
25 Jan 05 |  Americas
Fight over Florida woman's fate
01 Oct 03 |  Americas

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