Judge rule against reinserting Terri’s feeding tube draws strong criticism

.- A federal judge ruled this morning that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube would not be reinserted.  

The feeding tube of the 41-year-old disabled woman was removed March 18 by court order after a long battle in the Florida courts.

Federal Judge James Whittemore heard the emergency request yesterday after President George W. Bush and Congress passed legislation early Monday morning, allowing federal courts to review the case.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had issued a statement March 18, strongly supporting legislation to provide Terri the chance to have her case heard in federal court.

Court hearing

Immediately following the passage of the bill, Schiavo’s parents filed for an injunction with a federal court.

During the hearing Monday, David Gibbs, an attorney for the parents, said forcing Schiavo to die by starvation and dehydration would be "a mortal sin" under her Catholic beliefs, reported the AP.

"It is a complete violation to her rights and to her religious liberty, to force her in a position of refusing nutrition," Gibbs argued.

George Felos, an attorney for husband Michael Schiavo, told the judge that the case had already been heard thoroughly in the state courts and that forcing Terri to endure another re-insertion of the tube would violate her civil rights.

The judge did not make a ruling immediately after the two-hour hearing.

Burke J. Balch, J.D., Director of the Powell Center for Medical Ethics of the National Right to Life Committee, said this morning that, “Judge Whittemore has engaged in a gross abuse of judicial power.”   

“Giving not even the slightest deference to an Act of Congress,” he said, “without even allowing time for meaningful legal argument or consideration of evidence, Whittemore has ruled that Terri Schiavo’s death sentence must be carried out.” 

Unless higher courts issue a stay on appeal, an innocent young woman will be denied what every mass murderer convicted in state court gets – her day in federal court.”

‘She’s still with us’

The Associated Press reported that Bob Schindler visited his daughter late Sunday and said he noticed the effects of dehydration. He said she appeared to be getting tired, but eventually responded to his teasing by making a face at him.

"It tells us she's still with us," he reportedly said.

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly. She breathes on her own, but relies on the feeding tube to keep her alive.

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