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Schiavo's parents battle for guardianship

They want son-in-law to divorce daughter


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Terri Schiavo has been in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state for 14 years.
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Larry King

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The mother of a severely brain-damaged woman made an emotional plea Monday to be allowed to take her daughter home from a hospice "and care for her the rest of my life."

Terri Schiavo, the daughter of Mary and Robert Schindler, has been hospitalized for 14 years, after the flow of oxygen to her brain temporarily stopped after a fall at home.

Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. She is fed through a tube but breathes on her own.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has been in a battle with her parents over whether his wife should be allowed to die. Doctors who have testified on his behalf have said she has no hope for recovery.

The Schindlers have maintained their daughter could be helped with therapy.

The Schindlers, who appeared with their attorney on CNN's "Larry King Live," will attend a hearing Thursday in another attempt to wrest guardianship of Terri Schiavo from her husband, who wants his wife's feeding tube removed.

Last Thursday, Florida's Supreme Court upheld a decision by a lower court that the law giving the governor the power to keep Terri Schiavo hooked to the tube was unconstitutional.

The court has given the governor's office until October 4 to ask for a rehearing. After making a decision on that possible request, the court would issue a mandate to make their decision final.

When he heard the court's decision, Robert Schindler said, "I had somewhat of a sick feeling in my stomach."

Asked whether he feels they'll be successful Thursday, he said, "I would hope so. I think we have very professional attorneys."

Mary Schindler contends her daughter is "happy and healthy," aside from her condition.

"I would take her home with me right now and take care of her for the rest of my life," the mother said. Terri Schiavo is in a hospice in Clearwater, Florida.

The Schindler's attorney, David Gibbs, who also appeared on the show, said, "There's big issues involved, when you look at the rights of a mom and dad, to try to protect the life of their own daughter, [and] when you look at religious liberty rights."

The Schindlers are Roman Catholic, and Gibbs said the pope has said it is not a medical act to give someone food and water.

Terri Schiavo cannot swallow, and needs help with that, her mother said.

Shown in a previous interview, Michael Schiavo said his wife expressed her wishes orally when she was 25 that she not be kept alive artificially. He said he's just carrying out her wishes. Any expressions by her cannot be verified because they are not in writing, attorneys say.

The Schindlers said they are confused about why Michael Schiavo would want to see his wife die.

Michael Schiavo filed a $20 million medical malpractice lawsuit after his wife's fall and was given $1.4 million, plus $250,000 from another settlement.

The Schindlers said all the money was to be used for Terri's rehabilitation.

"After the money came in, he wouldn't do anything. She hasn't had any therapy in over 12 years," Mary Schindler said. Robert Schindler said much of the money was used for legal bills.

According to Robert Schindler, the husband told him he makes all the decisions.

Michael Schiavo, who has a girlfriend and two children, could file for divorce, relinquish guardianship and let the family take over, Gibbs said.

"Why Michael won't let them do that is not understandable," Gibbs said. "It would be so easy for him to get on with his life ... so these parents could take care of their daughter."


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