| Terri Schiavo's father Bob Schindler (right) and sister Suzanne Vitadamo in Pinellas Park, Florida. (AFP)
Pinellas Park (Florida), March 26 (Reuters): Terri Schiavo's parents lost another round in court today and were nearly out of legal options as the brain-damaged Florida woman passed her eighth day without nutrition and edged towards death.
Circuit judge George Greer, the state judge who has presided over the seven-year legal dispute between Michael Schiavo, who is Terri's husband and guardian, and her parents Bob and Mary Schindler, rejected a petition that alleged Terri had tried to communicate that she wanted to live.
The Schindlers appeared to have few avenues left in their frantic search for a way to restart their 41-year-old daughter's feeding after the long family feud that prompted intervention by Florida's legislature, the US Congress and President George W. Bush.
After a visit with his daughter today, Bob Schindler, who a day earlier said she was 'down to her last hours,' said Terri was 'putting up a tremendous battle to live.'
'She is fighting like hell to stay alive,' he said.
'I want the powers that be to know that. It's not too late to save her.'
The Schindlers' fight has drawn passionate support from conservative Christians, right-to-life and anti-abortion activists in their struggle to prolong their daughter's life. Lobbying from the Christian Right prompted the US Congress to pass a special law to push the case into federal courts.
Terri Schiavo suffered a cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen in 1990. The courts have agreed with doctors who say she is in a persistent vegetative state.
Michael Schiavo has said his wife would not want to live in her condition, a position upheld by the courts. The Schindlers say their daughter responds to them and her condition could improve with treatment.
Schiavo was expected to live for up to two weeks after her feeding tube was removed.
Late yesterday, a three-judge panel at the 11th US circuit court of appeals in Atlanta upheld an earlier ruling by US district judge James Whittemore that denied an emergency order to have feeding restored.
The Schindlers' lawyers said they would not ask for a review by all 12 judges of the Atlanta court, which has already turned away the case this week. The Supreme Court also has declined to get involved.
The parents renewed their appeal to Greer yesterday, presenting affidavits from two witnesses who said that Schiavo indicated she wanted to be kept alive. The new motion filed with Greer said Barbara Weller, an attorney working for the Schindlers, told Schiavo the controversy over her life could be stopped if she could say: 'I want to live.'
Weller said Schiavo responded with the sounds 'Ahhhhhhh' and 'Waaaaaaaa.'
In his ruling today, Greer said the Schindlers could have presented Weller's affidavit at an emergency hearing three days ago, but did not.
The parents 'waived their right to raise Terri Schiavo's alleged verbalisation when they failed to present the affidavits at the March, 23, 2005, hearing,' he wrote.