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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 04:34 GMT 05:34 UK
Schiavo parents appeal for calm
Supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents pray outside the Pinellas Park hospice
Supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents pray outside her hospice
The parents of a brain-damaged US woman appealed for calm as they gave up their battle to have the feeding tube which would keep her alive reconnected.

Terri Schiavo, 41, has been without food or water for 10 days, following a court decision that she should be allowed to die.

Her parents now appear to be resigned to watching her die after losing their latest legal challenge in Florida.

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

Mrs Schiavo's husband, Michael, who is her legal guardian, says she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

Communion wine

Mrs Schiavo's parents - Bob and Mary Schindler - have attracted support from conservative Christians and right-to-life activists.

TERRI SCHIAVO CASE
Feb 1990: Mrs Schiavo collapses
May 1998: Mr Schiavo files petition to remove feeding tube, triggering legal battle
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 allows removal of tube
22 Mar 2005: Federal judge turns down parents' appeal
23 Mar 2005: Appeals court backs federal ruling
25 Mar 2005: Federal judge rejects parents' second appeal
26 Mar 2005: Florida state judge rejects parents' appeal; judgement upheld by Florida Supreme Court

Dozens of people have maintained a vigil in front of the hospice in Pinellas Park in recent days. The number of police officers guarding the building has increased as protesters have continued to demand that she be kept alive.

Five protesters were arrested on Sunday.

Mr Schindler had told them to go home and celebrate Easter Sunday with their families.

But in a statement issued by a family spokesman, Gary McCullough, he urged them to return to the hospice afterwards.

"We want people to continue to be here with Terri, and with us," he said.

On Sunday, Mrs Schiavo received a drop of communion wine on her tongue, after her husband agreed to the move.

Her parents have ended federal appeals and their latest emergency appeal to keep Mrs Schiavo alive was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.

Two more court appeals by the state of Florida and Governor Jeb Bush are still pending, but the Florida appeals court has already rejected earlier efforts by the governor to resume the feeding of Mrs Schiavo.

'Point of no return'

Meanwhile, a dispute has arisen over whether Mrs Schiavo has now declined to the point where she is beyond help.

It followed a statement by the head of the Schindler's legal team, David Gibbs, who said doctors had begun "to give her morphine drip for the pain and at this point we would say Terri has passed the point of no return".

But the Schindlers publicly disagreed with their own lawyer.

Their spokesman said Mr Gibbs' statement "was not made with the family's knowledge" and was "absolutely not true".

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

Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.


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