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Schiavo Nearing Death in Florida

By Jane Sutton

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Reuters) - A bitter family fight over the fate of Terri Schiavo neared its end on Sunday as the brain-damaged Florida woman edged closer to death, and her parents gave up their seven-year legal battle to keep her alive.

Protesters knelt for Easter mass services on the lawn of the hospice where Schiavo is being cared for after lawyers for Bob and Mary Schindler ended the legal fight that made the case a cause for Christian conservatives and drew in the U.S. Congress, President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"I'm not saying we wouldn't be open to any idea that comes up. But at this point, it appears that time has finally run out," said David Gibbs, an attorney for the Schindlers, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Schiavo, 41, passed her ninth day without nourishment and Gibbs said she was declining rapidly. "They've begun to give her morphine drip for the pain. And at this point, we would say Terri has passed the point of no return," he told CBS' "Face the Nation."

Randall Terry, a spokesman for the Schindlers, disputed Gibbs' description of Terri Schiavo's condition and said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush still had time to intervene.

"Terri is not at death's door and she is not past the point of no return medically," Terry said.

The Schindlers, who are practicing Roman Catholics, have attracted passionate support from an array of conservative Christians, right-to-life and anti-abortion activists.

Passions boiled over among the crowd of protesters holding vigil in front of the hospice in Pinellas Park, with the first two violent arrests.

One of those was Don McBurney, a member of the Denver Bible Church, who grabbed a paper cup of water and rushed the police lines standing guard in the driveway. Three policemen wrestled him to the ground. He struggled, screaming, "Bring her water."

There have been 38 arrests, mostly peaceful, in the past 10 days.

The crowd swelled to several hundred people at one point. Some suggested militias should form to storm the building. Others prayed quietly and sang hymns.


Ardith Cooper of Morris, Illinois, sketched a chalk drawing of Terri Schiavo nailed to a crucifix. Christians mark Easter Sunday as the day they believe Jesus Christ was resurrected after being crucified.

Seven people in wheelchairs rolled to the driveway, hoisted themselves out their chairs and sat on the ground, screaming "We're not dead yet. Let Terri live."

A small group of protesters went to Michael Schiavo's home to lay symbolic dying roses on his lawn. Someone inside turned on the lawn sprinklers, drenching the demonstrators.

Michael Schiavo and the parents were alternating time at Schiavo's bedside -- having long ago stopped speaking to each other in a family feud that escalated into a highly politicized dispute.

Lobbied by evangelical Christians, the Congress raced through a law to push the case into federal courts. But federal courts turned down the Schindlers' request for an order to resume feeding.

Jeb Bush, the president's younger brother, told CNN on Sunday he had done everything within his power and could not violate a court order.

Congress' effort was assailed by critics as meddling in a family affair already decided by state courts. Opinion polls showed most Americans disapproved of the congressional move.

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