"Several times I witnessed Terri, albeit it inconsistently, laugh in response to a humorous comment someone in the room made," Cheshire wrote in an affidavit submitted to the Pinellas County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Cheshire's observation conflicts with the conclusions of court-appointed neurologists, who have examined her closely and say Schiavo's cerebral cortex has been liquefied and that she cannot feel, sense or think.
Mary Schindler, center, Terri Schiavo's mother, is escorted out of the Pinellas Park, Fla., hospice where her daughter is a patient. "When I close my eyes at night, all I can see is Terri's face in front of me, dying, starving to death," she said. "Please, someone out there, stop this cruelty."
(John Pendygraft -- St. Petersburg Times Via AP)
Cheshire has been associated with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, an organization formed in the 1990s by leading Christian bioethicists. A poem attributed to him about assisted suicide is posted on the Web site Ethics & Medicine (www.ethicsandmedicine.com):
"The notion of a right to die/ In reason finds approval nil,/ From such a harsh judicial lie/ Would obligate doctors to kill."
Although the conclusions of Cheshire and the attempted intervention by Bush stirred emotions on talk radio and in legal circles, the familiar wrenching scenes of the Schindler family's vigil played out in Pinellas Park. Mary Schindler, whose appearance outside the hospice is now routinely greeted by cheers from supporters, stood with her family again Wednesday and pleaded.
"When I close my eyes at night, all I can see is Terri's face in front of me, dying, starving to death," she said. "Please, someone out there, stop this cruelty. Stop the insanity. Please let my daughter live."
The demonstrators surrounding Schindler have maintained a mostly peaceful demeanor, quietly praying or silently holding signs. A small symbolic act lead to 10 arrests Wednesday morning when a group of protesters -- including three children -- tried to get around police and deliver water to Schiavo.
The arrests were sandwiched between appeals court rulings that left the Schindlers with little hope in the federal courts, short of the U.S. Supreme Court taking the case. That seemed unlikely to many legal experts because the high court refused to hear appeals of state court rulings in the case, though new issues may have been raised by the congressional law that shifted jurisdictions to the federal courts. An appeals court panel voted 2 to 1 to reject the Schindlers' appeal, siding with attorneys for Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, who says his wife would have wanted her feeding tube removed. Later the full court refused to hear the case.
"There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," wrote Judges Ed Carnes and Frank M. Hull of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. "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."
In dissent, Judge Charles R. Wilson wrote, "I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube."
The judges ruling against the Schindlers have been the objects of great derision here in Pinellas Park, where demonstrators have carried signs that say "God's law" should supersede "man's law." As the adults argued about the court rulings, a 16-year-old girl named Katrina Munchmore stood balancing a 14-foot cross she had built Wednesday morning with her dad. A sign attached to the cross was inspired by the words Christians believe Jesus spoke before he died: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Staff writer Dana Milbank and research editor Lucy Shackelford in Washington contributed to this report.