Federal Appeals Court Panel Rules Against Terri's Parents

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A federal appeals court panel ruled 2-1 against Terri Schiavo's parents early Wednesday morning, dealing another legal setback to the Schindlers' efforts to keep their daughter alive.

"There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," ruled the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. "We all have our own family, our own loved ones and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law."

The panel, agreeing with a federal judge in Tampa, said the Schindlers had "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims," and therefore Terri's feeding and hydration tube will not be reconnected.

Dissent: No Harm in Feeding Terri

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Charles Wilson said denying the Schindlers' request for an injuction "frustrates Congress's intent, which is to maintain the status quo by keeping Theresa Schiavo alive until the federal courts have a new and adequate opportunity to consider the constitutional issues raised by Plaintiffs."

According to Wilson, Congress wanted the federal courts to consider the merits of the Schiavo case "with a fresh set of eyes."

"Theresa Schiavo's death, which is imminent, effectively ends the litigation without a fair opportunity to fully consider the merits of Plaintiffs' constitutional claims," Judge Wilson wrote.

"In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinstating the feeding tube."

Another appeal

The Schindlers will appeal this latest ruling, too, wire reports quoted one of their attorneys as saying; but the appeals process is nearing an end. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice refused to intervene in the Schiavo case.

The Schindlers also are pleading with the Florida Senate to act on legislation passed by the Florida House that would prevent people in a persistent vegetative state from dying by the withholding of food or water.

Mary Schindler, Terri's mother, made a tearful plea to the Florida Senate on Tuesday afternoon: "Please, senators, for the love of God, I'm begging you, don't let my daughter die of thirst," she said.

The Florida Senate could take the bill up as early as Wednesday, press reports said.

Meanwhile, Terri's parents said Tuesday that Terri is fading fast as the effects of dehydration begin to take a serious toll.

To view the archive of the Cybercast News Service's coverage on Terri Schiavo, click here.

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