A parade of supportive celebrities have phoned the Schindlers, Tammaro said. His sister or her husband have spoken with Mel Gibson, Pat Boone and "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star Patricia Heaton. Mary Schindler "is having a hard time realizing [Schiavo's] days are running out," Tammaro said, and has had trouble getting out of bed in the morning even though she is a lifelong early riser.
Tammaro, one of the few family members allowed to visit Schiavo, said he "laid hands" on her during a moment of prayer with several other family members this week. "I felt her move to my touch," he said. Schiavo, he said, often appears to laugh when someone tells a joke.
Rebekah Richardson, 17, left, and Becky Hill, 17, of the Cause USA, a prayer organization, participate in a silent protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building.
(Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
The Schindlers had been hoping that Jeb Bush could save their daughter by presenting an affidavit from William P. Cheshire, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., who says Schiavo may be in a "minimally conscious," rather than "vegetative," state, as court-appointed doctors believe.
Cheshire has been a vocal critic of assisted suicide. An article attributed to him on the Web site www.restorationfoundation.org advocated Jews converting to Christianity. "Should not we who are in Christ lift the yoke of persecution from the shoulders of the Jewish people and refresh them with the truth of the Lord of the Sabbath?" the article says.
Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer ruled that Bush's attempt to use Cheshire's report as a basis for taking custody of Schiavo appeared to be a violation of the constitutional separation the legislative, judicial and executive branches. "By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment-assistance," Greer wrote.
Bush may have missed an opportunity to take custody of Schiavo on Thursday morning. For about three hours, Felos said, there was no judicial impediment stopping the state from seizing Schiavo and resuming her tube-feeding because an arcane rule granted an automatic stay of court orders after an appeal was filed at 8:15 a.m. Realizing that the appeal opened a window of opportunity, Felos said, he asked Greer to issue another order nullifying the stay. Once the state figured out what was happening, Felos said, its lawyers apparently tried to stall a Thursday-morning hearing before Greer to give officers time to drive to the hospice. But Greer issued the order shortly after 11 a.m., preventing any possible state action. Another attempt to seize Schiavo may have been set in motion the day before, Felos said.
Law enforcement officers and an attorney for Morton Plant Hospital, where Schiavo's tube was to be reinserted, told Felos and his legal team that the governor's office had notified them that agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were preparing to take custody of Schiavo and drive her to the hospital. Those phone calls prompted Felos to ask Greer to issue the order that was handed down late Wednesday afternoon blocking the state from taking custody and authorizing "each and every" sheriff's deputy in the state to stop any attempt to remove Schiavo from the hospice.
The possible intervention of Bush briefly heartened the crowd outside the hospice. But hope was fading late Thursday. Unable to do anything else, a gray-haired woman in a long black dress fell to her knees as the sky was darkening. She clasped her hands and her lips moved, in silent prayer.
Staff writers Jennifer Frey and Dana Milbank in Washington contributed to this report.