Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who became the focal point of political opportunism by Congress, President Bush and right-to-life conservatives, died on Thursday, a spokesman for the parents said.
“She’s just died,” said Brother Paul O’Donnell, a Franciscan monk and spiritual adviser to the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who fought a seven-year legal battle to keep their daughter alive.
Schiavo, 41, died 13 days after her tube feeding was halted under order from a state court.
She had been in what courts ruled was a “persistent vegetative state” since her heart briefly stopped in 1990, depriving her brain of oxygen. Courts had long sided with her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, in ruling she would not have wanted to live like this and should be allowed to die.
But the Schindlers fought in courts to prolong their daughter’s life and won support from an array of conservative Christians and right-to-life and anti-abortion activists.
The Republican-controlled Congress rushed through a special law after Schiavo’s feeding was halted on March 18 to allow the parents to take their case from state courts into federal courts.
But the effort, which opinion polls showed was unpopular with most Americans, failed when federal judges refused the parents’ request to order feeding resumed. The latest rebuff, from the U.S. Supreme Court, came late on Wednesday night.