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Judge allows comatose woman to die

From Richie Phillips

Terri Schiavo

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Should Terri Schiavo be allowed to die?


CLEARWATER, Florida (CNN) -- A judge sided Friday with the husband of a woman who has been comatose for 12 years and ordered that her feeding tube be removed and she be allowed to die.

The parents of Terri Schiavo, 38, who suffered heart failure and massive brain damage in 1990, had sought to keep her alive. She breathes on her own and can open her eyes, but is fed through a tube.

In a nine-page order, Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Greer ordered that food be withheld from her starting at 3 p.m. January 3. The delay in carrying out the order will give the parents time to file an appeal, which a lawyer for the parents said he will do next week.

"Viewing all the evidence as a whole and acknowledging that medicine is not a precise science, the court finds that the credible evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that [Terri] Schiavo remains in a persistent vegetative state," Greer wrote.

George Felos, a lawyer for Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, said he is "very pleased" with the ruling.

"Terri is in a persistent vegetative state and the court found as such," Felos said. "There are no treatments or therapies that can help her and the judge's ruling supports that position."

"She wouldn't like to live like this and that's all she's doing -- surviving," Michael Schiavo told CNN before the ruling was announced. "There's nothing there."

Schiavo said his wife had told him and others she would not want to live on life support.

But the woman's parents argued she never would have said such a thing and have fought to keep their daughter from dying.

After the ruling, Bob Schindler, her father, called the decision tantamount to murdering his daughter.

Last year, Michael Schiavo won a court ruling to discontinue his wife's feeding. But the Schindlers appealed, and the feeding resumed three days later.

The case was reheard recently. Two doctors selected by the husband and one by the court testified Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, beyond help.

"Unfortunately, I know of no single treatment or combination of treatments that could result in any meaningful improvement in her current situation," said Dr. Peter Bambakidis, a neurologist appointed by the court to make an independent evaluation.

But the woman's parents insist she is aware and responsive. Two doctors selected by the parents testified Terri Schiavo is not brain dead and can be treated.

She is being cared for in a hospice near St. Petersburg, Florida.

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