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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 17:15 GMT
Top US court spurns Schiavo plea
File photo of Terri Schiavo
Mrs Schiavo's family have been fighting to keep her alive
The US Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the case of brain-damaged woman Terri Schiavo.

Mrs Schiavo's parents asked the court to order the re-insertion of a feeding tube which was removed last week.

The court has repeatedly refused to rule on the case of Mrs Schiavo, 41, who has been in a persistent vegetative state since collapsing in 1990.

Mrs Schiavo's parents' hopes now rest on an effort by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to become her legal guardian.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, says she would not want to be kept alive. Her parents disagree.

The justices issued a one-page ruling refusing to hear the appeal by Bob and Mary Schindler.

They made no comment and did not outline any justification for their refusal.

One more chance

In their emergency petition to the Supreme Court, Bob and Mary Schindler had said their daughter was facing an "unjust and imminent death" because of Michael Schiavo's opposition to keeping her alive.

Lawyers for Mr Schiavo opposed the Schindlers' request, saying they could find "no valid justification for the extraordinary and invasive relief they seek".

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
18 Mar 2005: Florida court again allows removal of tube
22 Mar 2005: Federal judge turns down parents' appeal
23 Mar 2005: Appeals court backs federal ruling
24 Mar 2005: Supreme Court refuses appeal

"The status quo today is that Mrs Schiavo is exactly where she would want to be: She has been released from unwanted, intrusive medical procedures according to her wishes.

"Preservation of the status quo would allow her to die in peace, and to maintain her dignity and autonomy," Mr Schiavo's legal team said.

Without her feeding tube, which was removed six days ago, doctors estimate Mrs Schiavo will die after one or two weeks.

For Bob and Mary Schindler, the only legal option remaining is the possible last-minute intervention by Florida's Governor Bush, brother of the US president.

He has sided with the Schindlers and has applied to take legal custody of Terri Schiavo. Mr Schiavo is currently his wife's legal guardian.

Judge George Greer, the Florida judge who ordered the removal of the feeding tube, was due to rule on Gov Bush's application on Thursday.

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly because of a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder.


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