Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo Has Died
Terri Schiavo Has Died

* Feeding Tube Was Removed March 18

Mar 31, 2005 10:17 am US/Eastern

The attorney for Terri Schiavo's husband says the brain-damaged woman has died.

Word of the death came shortly after the parents, through their adviser, asked that they be allowed to be at her bedside when she died.

It was nearly two weeks ago that she was disconnected from the feeding tube that had kept her alive for years. Even after that, her parents continued their desperate legal battle to have the tube re-attached.

Schiavo's death comes after her parents lost two more rounds in court on Wednesday in their battle with their son-in-law, over the 41-year-old woman's fate.

She had been expected to survive one to two weeks after the tube was removed by court order March 18.

"Any pretense of a meaningful legal battle is now over. Terri Schiavo is over," said Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "Her parents still may try to get into court — there is no law against it — but it is hard to imagine any judges even willing now to entertain a motion or hold a hearing."

Schindler family supporter Frank Pavone said he had a message for Michael Schiavo and his attorney, George Felos.

"If I speak to him, if I speak to Michael, if I speak to Judge (George) Greer, if I speak to any of these people, I will not hesitate to call them exactly what they are: murderers," he told CBS News Correspondent Peter King and other reporters outside the hospice.

A Vatican cardinal said Thursday that leaving Terri Schiavo with no food and water amounts to murdering her, and that one cannot stand by inert without becoming an accomplice.

The comments by Cardinal Renato Martino reflect other remarks by Vatican prelates in the past weeks over the case of Terri Schiavo, a woman whose feeding tube was disconnected almost two weeks ago.

"The prolonged interruption in her feeding ... is shaping up as an unjust death sentence to an innocent, in one of the most inhumane and cruel forms — that of death from hunger and thirst," Martino, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican Radio.

Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, dispute that their daughter is in a persistent vegetative state, as court-appointed doctors have determined.

"She is demonstrating an amazing sparkle and desire to live," David Gibbs III, who represents the Schindlers, said Wednesday. "I would say she looks pretty stable compared to the last couple of days."

As for next legal steps, Gibbs said: "It appears that will be the last legal appeal at this time, unless something comes up."

"Their lawyer now has to be mindful of his obligation not to file frivolous lawsuits," said Cohen.

The Schindlers maintained that while Schiavo was weak, her organs were functioning Wednesday and she was responsive. "I'm asking that nobody throw in the towel as long as she's fighting, to keep fighting with her," Bob Schindler said.

George Felos, the attorney for Schiavo's husband, declined to comment.

The case has spent seven years winding its way through the courts, with the Schindlers repeatedly on the losing end. The country's highest court on Wednesday declined to intervene for the sixth time. Hours earlier in an 9-2 ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta declined to grant a new hearing in the case — the fourth time since last week that it ruled against the Schindlers.

One of the appeals court judges rebuked the White House and lawmakers Wednesday for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people — our Constitution."

"Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper," wrote Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr., appointed by President Bush's father.

Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990, when her heart stopped for several minutes because of a chemical imbalance apparently brought on by an eating disorder.

Her parents doubt she had any end-of-life wishes and say she laughs, tries to speak and responds to them when they visit the hospice.

Reconnecting the feeding tube now could actually cause harm, say experts.

"Basically they can't absorb it. They can't make use of it. And it actually can make people sicker," Dr. Diane Meier, an expert in life's final stages at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, told CBS News.

"This is it — or should be it," said legal analyst Cohen. "The federal courts have now undertaken as complete and exhaustive an appellate review as they think they must and as they ever will. And there is no higher court, or other branch to turn to, for the Schindlers to get help under the law."

Timeline in the case of Terri Schiavo:

Feb. 25, 1990: Schiavo collapses in her home from a possible potassium imbalance caused by an eating disorder, temporarily stopping her heart and cutting off oxygen to her brain.

November 1992: Schiavo's husband, Michael, wins more than $1 million in a malpractice suit.

July 29, 1993: Bob and Mary Schindler try to have Michael removed as their daughter's guardian. They accuse him of not properly caring for Schiavo. The case is later dismissed.

Feb. 11, 2000: Circuit Judge George W. Greer approves Michael Schiavo's request to have Terri's feeding tube removed, agreeing that she had told her husband she wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially.

April 2001: State and U.S. Supreme courts refuse to intervene, and Schiavo's tube is removed, but another judge orders it reinserted two days later.

Feb. 13, 2002: Mediation attempts fail, and Michael Schiavo again seeks permission to remove feeding tube.

Nov. 22, 2002: After hearing medical testimony, Greer finds no evidence that Schiavo has any hope of recovery and again orders tube removed.

Oct. 15, 2003: Tube removed for second time.

Oct. 21, 2003: Republican Gov. Jeb Bush signs hastily passed bill allowing him to intervene, then orders tube reinserted.

Dec. 2, 2003: Independent guardian finds "no reasonable medical hope" that Schiavo will improve.

Sept. 23, 2004: Florida Supreme Court strikes down the law that allowed Bush to intervene and have the tube reinserted as unconstitutional.

Feb. 25, 2005: Greer gives permission for tube removal at 1 p.m. March 18.

March 16-17: Florida House passes bill intended to keep Schiavo alive but the Senate defeats a different version. In Washington, lawmakers can't reconcile differences in bills passed by the House and Senate.

March 18: Feeding tube removed. Greer rules against congressional Republicans who had tried to put off tube removal by seeking her appearance at hearings.

March 19: Congressional leaders from both parties agree on a bill that would allow a federal court to review the case and prolong Schiavo's life.

March 20-21: Congress passes the bill after members scramble to return to Washington for an early morning vote. President Bush signs the bill outside his White House bedroom. Parents file an emergency request with a federal judge to have the tube reconnected.

March 22: U.S. District Judge James Whittemore refuses to order the reinsertion of the tube. Parents appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 23: The 11th Circuit declines to order the reinsertion of the tube. The Schindlers turn to the U.S. Supreme Court.

March 24: The U.S. Supreme Court denies the appeal.

March 25: The Schindlers again ask Greer to intervene, saying Schiavo tried to say, "I want to live."

March 26: Greer rejects another effort by the Schindlers to get the feeding tube reinserted; Florida Supreme Court declines to intervene.

March 29: 11th Circuit agrees to consider the Schindlers' emergency bid for a new hearing on whether to reconnect her feeding tube.

March 30: The 11th Circuit declines to intervene. Hours later, the Schindlers appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which also refuses to intervene.

March 31: Terri Schiavo dies at 41.