Terri Schiavo's Father: 'She's Down to Her Last Hours'

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - In a brief news conference held outside the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., Robert Schindler told reporters that his daughter's life is slipping away.

"Terri is weakening. She's down to her last hours," Schindler said in response to one of only two questions he took from reporters. "Something has to be done and it has to be done quick."

Terri Schiavo has now gone seven days without nutrition or hydration. Doctors had predicted that her death could come in as little as one week from dehydration, or that she could live longer, eventually being overcome by the combined effects of dehydration and starvation.

Terri's father issued a public plea to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, asking the judges to seriously consider the new claims rebuffed by the U.S. District Court Friday morning.

"The information that was presented in front of the federal judge in Tampa was very strong, was very, very strong," Schindler said. "We're encouraging these judges when they review that, it's under appeal, to make the right decision."

Schindler complimented the legal team that has been representing himself and his wife, despite the long string of defeats they have suffered.

"We've had some of the best legal minds in the country working on this. And we're always, it seems, that we're losing in court," Schindler said, "but it's not because we have poor attorneys.

"They're offering sound legal motions, but we haven't been successful," he said, reiterating his perception of the strength of the new arguments introduced Thursday.

The Schindlers new arguments include that denying Terri nutrition and hydration is a violation of:
    The Americans with Disabilities Act,
    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
    The Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and
    The 14th Amendment prohibition against the state depriving a person of life without due process.
Robert and Mary Schindler also argued, through their attorneys, that the determination that Terri would not want to be provided nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube was made in violation of her 14th Amendment due process rights.

U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore rejected those arguments Friday morning. He also praised the attorneys in the case and offered his sentiments to the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo.

"Finally, the court would be remiss if it did not once again convey its appreciation for the difficulties and heartbreak the parties have endured throughout this lengthy process," Whittemore wrote.

"The civility with which this delicate matter has been presented by counsel is a credit to their professionalism and dedication to their respective clients, and Terri," Whittemore added.

In a move that seemed to catch reporters off guard during the press conference scheduled by Robert Schindler's representatives, he repeatedly apologized to the media for being late.

"I appreciate your patience. I'm a little slow moving this morning," Schindler said.

He also asked reporters to forgive him for not giving them more information during the short meeting.

"I apologize for hanging you guys out like this because I know you've got a tough job that you're doing," Schindler said. "I'm really not trying to string you along, so, accept my apologies and I'll talk to you [in more detail] later."

Television network news reporters covering the saga expressed shock that Schindler would be willing to consider their convenience while he is still engaged in the legal battle to save his daughter's life.

Schindler answered only one other question during the press conference. When asked whether or not Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should ignore a state court's prohibition against the state Department of Children and Families taking Terri into protective custody to save her life, Schindler said, "I don't want to get into that issue, yet."

Gov. Bush was previously asked whether he would "violate the law" to save Terri Schiavo. He responded, "I've consistently said that I cannot go beyond what my powers are, and I'm not going to do it."

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

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