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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 05:39 GMT
Schiavo is 'down to last hours'
Supporters of parents outside Mrs Schiavo's hospice
Supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents are maintaining a vigil
The father of a brain-damaged US woman fighting to keep his daughter alive has said she was weakening and down "to her last hours".

Terri Schiavo has been without food or water for a week, after courts agreed that she should be allowed to die.

On Friday her parents lost their latest legal appeal to order doctors to resume feeding the 41-year-old patient.

An appeals court in Georgia said the family had not presented any new arguments to overturn previous rulings.

Reports say the ruling marked the third time in four days the court had denied an emergency request made by Mrs Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are not her legal guardians.

Earlier on Friday, a federal judge refused an appeal a day after the Supreme Court said it would not consider their request to have the feeding tube re-inserted.

Internet threats

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly because of a chemical imbalance.

Mrs Schiavo's husband, Michael, her legal guardian, says she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, and that she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

TERRI SCHIAVO CASE
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
25 Mar 2005: Federal judge rejects parents' second appeal
25 Mar 2005: Appeals court rejects bid to overturn federal judge ruling

Her parents disagree.

After Friday's latest ruling, the Schindlers again appealed to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to intervene.

"[Bush] has put Terri through a week of hell and our family through a week of hell by not acting," Mr Schindler said. "He has to come up to the plate."

The Schindlers also filed a new motion on Friday in which they argue that their daughter has expressed the wish to live.

"She managed to articulate the first two vowel sounds, first articulating 'ahhhhhhh' and then virtually screaming 'waaaaaaa,'" the motion said.

Mr Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos, called the motion "outrageous" and "an abuse of the legal system".

A ruling is expected by 1200 (1700 GMT) on Saturday.

Without nourishment, the patient is expected to die within the next few days.

Friends say Mrs Schiavo is showing signs of being dehydrated.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says the chances of Mrs Schiavo's life being saved are now rapidly dwindling, but as long as she is alive her parents and their supporters are unlikely to throw in the towel.

Eight more people - including a 10-year old boy and 13-year-old twin girls - were arrested on Friday for trying to bring her water, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, FBI agents have arrested a man in North Carolina on suspicion of soliciting offers over the internet to kill Mr Schiavo and the judge in the case.

He is accused of offering $250,000 for the killing of Mr Schiavo and another $50,000 for the judge.





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