ANITA KUMAR, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (FL) (March 7, 2001, page 3B)
A court has ruled that Michael Schiavo can remove his wife’s feeding tube after her parents’ appeals are exhausted.
First, Terri Schiavo’s husband got a court order to remove her feeding tube. Now, he wants to get permission to take it out sooner – rather than later.
Michael Schiavo will ask a Pinellas judge this month if he can remove her life support before her parents’ appeals have been exhausted, further complicating the St. Petersburg right -to- die case that has garnered national publicity.
“It’s appropriate to have the judge take another look at the issue,” said George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s attorney.
But an attorney for her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said Tuesday that removing the tube now would only cause further pain for her family. “I am surprised that he would do this,” said Joseph Magri upon hearing the news. “For him to run to the judge now is unconscionable.”
The Schindlers, who have been feuding with Michael Schiavo since 1993, are vehemently opposed to removing the tube at all, saying she would starve to death.
Mrs. Schiavo, who has spent 11 years in a persistent vegetative state, would die one to two weeks after her tube was removed from a chemical imbalance in her blood, her doctors say.
After an emotional trial, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer ruled last year that Schiavo could remove the tube 30 days after all of Mrs. Schiavo’s parents’ appeals have been exhausted.
That hasn’t happened yet. But Schiavo is asking the judge to move up the date now that the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland has upheld Greer’s ruling to discontinue support. The court, which agreed with Michael Schiavo that Mrs. Schiavo would not want her life extended by a feeding tube, reaffirmed its decision last month.
A hearing on the request to remove the stay will be held in front of Greer on March 22. The judge declined to comment.
Felos said both sides agreed last year that Schiavo retained the right to ask Greer to change the date. Magri disagreed, though he did say that Felos has a legal right to ask the judge to do so.
The Schindlers plan to ask the Florida Supreme Court to consider taking the case later this month. Felos said the state Supreme Court does not have to hear the case and will only do so if the justices know of a specific reason they should.
Mrs. Schiavo, now 37, collapsed at her St. Petersburg home Feb. 25, 1990. Her heart stopped beating, and she was deprived of oxygen for five minutes.
Doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state – unaware of what is happening around her and that her motions and sounds are based on reflex only – and will never improve. But her parents dispute that, saying she responds to sounds and sights.
The Schindlers and Schiavo have accused each other of trying to control Mrs. Schiavo’s fate to get $700,000 she received in 1993 from a malpractice suit.
Schiavo and Felos said they have offered five times to donate to charity the $700,000 he stood to inherit upon her death if only the Schindlers would allow removal of her feeding tube. Each time, they have rejected the offer. The Schindlers say that Schiavo never made that offer five times and when he did, it was insincere.
Schiavo moved his wife from a Largo nursing home to a facility run by Hospice of the Florida Suncoast last April after her longtime nursing home became uncomfortable with the publicity the case generated.