Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-damaged woman who spent 15 years connected to a feeding tube in an epic legal and medical battle that went all the way to the White House and Congress, has died, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41. Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 after her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder. Court-appointed doctors ruled she was in a persistent vegetative state, with no real consciousness or chance of recovery. The feeding tube was removed with a judge's approval March 18 after Michael Schiavo argued that his wife told him long ago she would not want to be kept alive artificially. His in-laws disputed that claim and argued that she could get better with treatment. An autopsy is planned, with both sides hoping it will shed more light on the extent of her brain injuries.
During the seven-year legal battle, Florida lawmakers, Congress and President Bush tried to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo's parents, but state and federal courts at all levels repeatedly ruled in favor of her husband. After the tube that supplied a nutrient solution was disconnected, protesters streamed into Pinellas Park, Fla., to keep vigil outside her hospice, with many arrested as they tried to bring her food and water. -- by the Associated Press