PINELLAS PARK, Fla., March 26 -- Two visions of Terri Schiavo emerged Saturday: Her husband's attorney, George Felos, said he had "never seen such a look of beauty and peace upon her." Schiavo's father, Robert Schindler, whose family has compared her complexion to that of a concentration camp victim, said "she is fighting like hell to stay alive."
The starkly divergent portrayals were delivered as the Schindlers' attorneys gave up appealing to the federal courts for reinsertion of a feeding tube that was removed March 18. Instead, they asked the Florida Supreme Court to intervene and were again rejected. This time the Schindlers had argued that Schiavo tried to tell one of her parents' attorneys, "I want to live."
Earlier Saturday, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer had ruled that the utterances were not enough evidence that there was a "sufficient promise" of Schiavo's cognitive skills improving. The attorney, Barbara Weller, had said Schiavo said "AHHH" and "WAAA" after Weller touched her and asked her to say "I want to live." But Greer wrote that medical experts have testified that Schiavo makes sounds as a reflex after being touched in the same way that people yank back their hands after touching a hot stove.
The ruling so dispirited protesters that some began to speak of Schiavo, who court-appointed doctors say has been in a vegetative state for 15 years, in the past tense. Others looked to the symbolism of the day. Manuel Vicente, a Cuban American who drove to Schiavo's hospice from his home in Front Royal, Va., waved a sign reminding passersby that Saturday has historical significance for Catholics and for opponents of Cuban President Fidel Castro who were outraged that child refugee Elian Gonzalez was seized by U.S. agents and returned to his father in Cuba.
"Holy Saturday 2000, taking Elian was wrong! Holy Saturday 2005, taking Terri is right. Do it!"
Vicente, like many others here, wanted Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), to defy court orders that prevented him from taking custody of Schiavo. Others around him made plans for the evening. This day's prayers for Schiavo would be offered up at the same time as their Easter vigil.