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Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s life-sustaining feeding tube was removed this afternoon in compliance with a judge’s order as her husband Michael Schiavo, who demanded the removal, and her mother looked on.
Bob Schindler at press conference yesterday (photo: Gary McCullough, Christian Communication Network)
An advocate for the family on the scene told WorldNetDaily the relatively simple surgical procedure was conducted at the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., where Terri resides.
Doctors say if there is no further intervention, she will die in 10-14 days.
“We have a very sad family here,” said press consultant Gary McCullough, who noted Terri’s mother was visibly shaken and crying after the feeding tube was removed.
But Terri’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, are not giving up , McCullough said, especially after a surprise half-hour meeting this morning with Gov. Jeb Bush behind closed doors.
“It has given them a glimmer of hope,” he said, “that there is some way he could intervene and she could have [the tube] reinstalled.”
Yesterday, the governor’s office insisted Terri’s fate was “in the court’s hands,” but after meeting with the Schindlers, he asked his legal department to investigate whether there is anything he can do at this stage.
The Schindlers exhausted all their legal options in an attempt to thwart a judge’s order to have the feeding tube removed today at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
McCullough said some of the “best Christian legal organizations” also are working on this case, looking for a “legal silver bullet.”
He said he has been told Terri can go on for another 50-60 hours without sustenance before permanent damage sets in.
Michael Schiavo and his attorneys argue Terri is in a “persistent vegetative state” and previously had expressed her wish not to be kept alive artificially in such a condition. The Schindlers, however, point to the opinion of numerous physicians and to videotaped evidence that Terri is responsive and aware that her life is in danger.
Yesterday, the Schindlers released a videotape they believe provides convincing evidence Terri is not in the comatose condition her husband and his attorneys portray.
The tape apparently violates a court order, and Michael Schiavo’s attorney Deborah Bushnell immediately responded to announcement of the tape’s release, warning that if it is distributed, the Schindler family “will not be allowed to visit Terri unless [Schiavo] or his representative is present.”
Robert Schindler distributed the video at a press conference yesterday in which he revealed Terri tried to convey to him she did not want to die, by bolting upright and trying to get out of her chair when told she might be killed.
Protecting a ‘noble concept’
Gov. Bush met with the couple about 30 miles from the hospice, near Plant City, Fla., where he was attending a dedication to a migrant worker center. Afterwards, he spoke with reporters with the Schindlers at his side.
Gov. Jeb Bush
“In my prayers, I would hope that our legal system would hope that our right to life is as important as the right to terminate life support,” he said. “It’s embedded in our constitution, and I think it is a noble concept that should be protected.”
McCullough said the meeting came about after the Schindlers learned Bush would be making an appearance in the area this morning. The family called his office, not expecting a reply, and were surprised when during their 10 a.m. press conference they were informed the governor would meet with them right away.
The governor’s spokeswoman told WorldNetDaily yesterday Bush, who previously issued documents in support of Terri, could do nothing more to save Terri’s life.
“This is in the court’s hands,” Bush’s press secretary Alia Faraj said. “Our government has committed these decisions to the judicial branch, and we must respect that process.”
Faraj noted Bush presented his opinion on this case twice, in “fulfillment of his duty to make sure the laws are faithfully followed.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Bush wrote a letter to the probate judge, George W. Greer, who ordered Terri’s feeding tube be removed, and he filed a friend-of-the-court brief in an unsuccessful motion to bring the case under federal jurisdiction.
The Schindlers have been locked in a decade-long legal struggle with their son-in-law over the care and custody of their daughter, who suffered massive brain damage when she collapsed at her home 13 years ago under unexplained circumstances at the age of 26.
Five years ago, Schiavo petitioned the court for permission to remove his wife’s feeding tube. Although Terri breathes on her own and maintains her own blood pressure, the tube to her stomach was necessary for nourishment and hydration.
Legal documents and information on Terri’s case are posted on the family’s website.