DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The case of a severely brain-damaged woman remained locked in a legal stalemate yesterday after an appeals court cleared the way for her husband to remove her feeding tube only to see a judge promptly block the removal for at least another day.
The Second District Court of Appeal offered no specific instructions in a one-page mandate issued in the case of Terri Schiavo, who was left brain damaged by a chemical imbalance 15 years ago. That meant her husband, Michael, could order his wife's tube be removed.
But Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer issued an emergency stay about an hour later, blocking the removal of the feeding tube until 5 p.m. today. Greer, who has been overseeing the longstanding dispute, scheduled a hearing on the case for today.
"We're encouraged that we'll be able to get in front of Judge Greer tomorrow," Bobby Schindler, Terri's younger brother, said outside her Pinellas Park hospice.
Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had sought the stay in hopes of keeping their daughter alive long enough for them to file additional legal pleadings. They are trying to oust their son-in-law as her guardian and seeking medical tests that might back their assertion that their daughter has some mental capabilities.
It would probably take several days for Terri Schiavo to die if the tube is pulled.
The appeals court's mandate allowed Michael Schiavo to act under previous court rulings in the yearslong, highly emotional legal battle. The court has consistently upheld lower court rulings that Terri Schiavo had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, though she left no written directive.
In October 2003, she went without food or water for six days before Governor Jeb Bush pushed through a law that allowed him to order the tube reinserted. The Florida Supreme Court later struck down his action as unconstitutional. The courts also sided with Michael Schiavo when he had the tube removed for two days in 2001.
George Felos, Michael Schiavo's lawyer, would not comment.
Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage Feb. 25, 1990, when a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating and cut off oxygen to her brain.