Greer rules for Terri’s parents – will Schiavo call it quits?

Schiavo’s Parents Win Again In Court

By DAVID SOMMER dsommer@tampatrib.com 
Published: Oct 30, 2004

CLEARWATER – Terri Schiavo’s parents won an indefinite ban on the removal of their daughter’s feeding tube Friday, prompting their son-in- law’s attorney to ponder ending their fight. “I think we are coming very close, if we are not here already, where proceeding in the judicial system is futile,” said George Felos, who represents Michael Schiavo in his quest for court permission to stop feeding his brain-damaged wife.

Schiavo has been fighting his in-laws for 6 1/2 years over his contention that Terri Schiavo would not want to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of improvement.

Twice, Schiavo has won permission to remove his wife’s feeding tube, only to have it reinserted as Bob and Mary Schindler used one tactic after another to keep their daughter alive.

Felos said it might be time to advise Schiavo to end his quest. “It would appear that pursuing any remedy through the judicial system is simply a waste of time,” Felos said.  “It is hard to see where there is any benefit in staying the course in this case.”

Friday’s decision by Circuit Judge George Greer to stay the case indefinitely while the Schindlers appeal his latest ruling “could delay this case months, even years,” Felos said. “I think it’s outrageous.”

The Schindlers, who contend their daughter reacts to them and could improve if they are given control over her care, reacted with joy to Friday’s developments.

“Eventually they are going to get the point that maybe what they are trying to do is just wrong,” Bob Schindler said of Schiavo and Felos.

“The longer this goes, more and more people are recognizing it, and we are getting more and more help from the legal profession,” Schindler said in reference to his lawyers, some of whom have donated their time to the case.

Felos said he will ask the 2nd District Court of Appeal to lift Greer’s stay but expects the legal battle to drag on indefinitely.

The Schindlers, meanwhile, are appealing Greer’s decision last week not to grant them another trial over their daughter’s feelings about being kept alive with the aid of a feeding tube.

The St. Petersburg couple have argued that a March pronouncement by Pope John Paul II concerning the feeding of people in persistent vegetative states has changed the facts of the case.

Terri Schiavo has been unable to communicate since January 1990, when her heart failed, possibly because of an eating disorder, at age 26.

Her heart now beats and she breathes on her own, but she cannot swallow and must be fed through a tube inserted into her stomach.

After a January 2000 trial, Greer ruled that testimony from Michael Schiavo and his relatives showed that Terri Schiavo made statements before her heart failure indicating she would not want to be kept alive through artificial means.

The Schindlers dispute that. Even if it is true, they say, their daughter would have changed her mind after hearing the pope state that people in her condition should always be provided sustenance and to do otherwise would be a sin.

In denying them a new trial, Greer cited an appeals court finding that Terri Schiavo “did not regularly attend Mass or have a religious adviser who could assist the court in weighing her religious attitude about life support.”

Friday’s developments came two days after the Florida Supreme Court issued its own one-month stay on removing the tube in a separate court battle between Schiavo and Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bush used a controversial measure dubbed “Terri’s Law” to order the feeding tube reinserted in October 2003 after Greer ordered it removed under instructions from the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Schiavo immediately sued the governor, contending Terri’s Law violated his wife’s right under the Florida Constitution to make a private medical decision. In September, the Florida Supreme Court threw out Terri’s Law, saying Bush overstepped his constitutional authority by intervening in the case.

Bush is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.