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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Life Support Will Be Withdrawn for Terri Schiavo

Aired November 22, 2002 - 14:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm being told in Florida a judge has ruled, just moments ago, a decision was made in that case of a bitter family battle.
Our Mark Potter on the phone with more.

Mark, what happened?

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, we just heard from attorney George Felos, who is one of the attorneys in the case, and he says that judge George Greer has ruled that life support will be withdrawn for 38-year-old Terri Schiavo. According to his order, that's to happen January 3, 2003 at 3 p.m. And it was done that way with some time built in so that the attorneys for the parents, who, of course, oppose this move, would have time to file a notice of appeal and to try to get a stay of this order pending that appeal. It is guaranteed that the lawyers for the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, will appeal this case. They will try, they've already said that.

George Felos represents the husband, Michael Schiavo, who has been advocating that life support be withdrawn for his wife. He is the legal guardian. She has been in a coma-like state for almost 13 years. And he has argued that it is time for her to be able to die with dignity. George Felos, his attorney, reacting to this nine-page order, says that he is pleased with the judge's decision. He said that, in his view, Terri is in a persistent vegetative state and that the judge has now found such and that there are no treatments or therapies that can help her.

So again, to review, the judge in this case, Circuit Judge George Greer, has ruled that life support must be withdrawn for Terri Schiavo, age 38, currently in a hospice facility in the Pinellas Park area, near St Petersburg. That date has been set of January 3, early next year.

She is able to breathe on her own, but is sustained by a feeding tube. So the procedure would be to, if this goes through, to cut off the food supply through the tube. It would then be replaced with medicines such as morphine that would help with the process of ending her life.

But again, this will go to an appeals court, according to the lawyers representing the parents -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Mark, there were five doctors involved here, including one that was appointed by the judge, correct? POTTER: That's correct. There were five who testified. More were involved in the case. But in a hearing that occurred about a month ago, ordered by the court of appeals, five doctors testified. Two were picked by the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler; two were picked by the husband, Michael Schiavo; one was picked by the judge. They came down 3-2 in favor of the opinion that she is -- that she, Terri Schiavo, is a persistent vegetative state and beyond help with any of the recognized standard medical treatments. And the tie- breaker, if you would, was the doctor picked by the court. So when his opinion was known, attorneys for the family and the parents and the parents themselves predicted that this probably would be the ruling that they would get, and indeed it has occurred. And as I said before, they have said that they will appeal.

PHILLIPS: All right, our Mark Potter, from her Clearwater, Florida. Thanks, Mark.

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