A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gives the Schindlers hope, but it may be too late

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 30, 2005 08:40 AM

In a rare legal victory for Terri Schiavo’s parents, Mary and Robert Schindler, a federal appeals court in Atlanta agreed late Tuesday to consider their request for a new hearing on whether to reconnect their severely brain-damaged daughter’s feeding tube.

However, with timing a vital issue, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, did not indicate when it would consider the motion. Terri approaches her 12th day without food or water from a tube.

Her father on Tuesday described his 41-year-old daughter, who has been in a vegetative state for nearly 15 years, as “failing,” the Associated Press reports. Legal observers commenting on Tuesday ‘s ruling question what effect it ultimately may have on Terri’s fate.

Still, the decision Tuesday was a ray of hope for the Schindlers, who have lost a string of court battles regarding their daughter’s life. The case has wound its way through six courts for seven years; the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene five times.

As the case has become a national issue, First Lady Laura Bush commented on the case Tuesday, as she was on a plane to Afghanistan (where she is scheduled to promote education and women’s rights). She defended the government’s intervention in what public opinion polls have called an intensely personal matter that should only have involved the family.

“It is a life issue that really does require government to be involved,” said Bush.