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Schiavo parents in last-ditch plea to Jeb

Pinellas Park (Florida), March 28 (Reuters): Terri Schiavo's parents appealed desperately to Florida governor Jeb Bush today to intervene as their brain-damaged daughter slipped toward death 10 days after her artificial feeding was halted by court order.

But the last-ditch effort by the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, seemed unlikely to succeed as Bush has already ruled out such action. Their appeal came after the Schindlers ran out of judicial options over the weekend in their bitter seven-year legal fight against Schiavo's husband to prolong her life.

'Bob and Mary Schindler are begging governor Bush to step in and take custody of Terri,' said Father Paul 'Donnell, a Franciscan monk who is a spiritual adviser to the parents.

'We're begging the governor to step in, to be a man of courage and to put an end to this barbaric practice that's taking place in Florida,' he said outside the Florida hospice where Schiavo is being cared for.

The parents' case has become a cause for Christian conservatives and drawn in the US Congress, President George W. Bush and his brother the Florida governor.

But Jeb Bush, who tried unsuccessfully last week to get the state welfare agency to take custody of Schiavo and to push the state legislature into intervening, has made plain he does not have the power to do anything more to prolong Schiavo's life although he remains an active supporter of the Schindlers.

'From a personal perspective it just breaks my heart that we have not erred on the side of life,' Bush said.

Doctors have said that Schiavo would survive up to two weeks after the removal of the feeding tube that has sustained her since a cardiac arrest in 1990 deprived her brain of oxygen. 'We're begging, governor, do something, today, now. Don't join the culture of death and be writing this woman's obituary,' 'Donnell said.

After the feeding tube was removed on March 18 by order of a state court that has ruled Schiavo would want to die, the Republican-controlled Congress scrambled to intervene, rushing through legislation to push a case that has long been decided into state courts into federal courts.

But the law, which President Bush interrupted a vacation to sign, was both unpopular with Americans ' opinion polls have shown a large majority of people disapprove ' and also failed to achieve its aim of getting feeding restored. Federal courts all the way up to the Supreme Court rejected the parents' request to reinsert the feeding tube.

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