updated 9/30/2004 1:04:26 PM ET 2004-09-30T17:04:26

The lead attorney for the parents of a woman at the center of a right-to-die dispute has withdrawn from the case, just days before the parents were expected to seek a new trial.

A judge signed an order Tuesday allowing Pat Anderson to quit after more than three years representing Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s parents. Anderson is being replaced by David Gibbs, who has also worked on the case.

“I am reclaiming my life,” Anderson said Wednesday. “It’s just time to leave. I’ve done my part shoving that rock up the hill. Maybe I’ll be able to finally sleep through the night without waking up at 3 a.m. remembering some detail.”

Anderson said her decision had nothing to do with any dispute with the Schindlers. Gibbs did not return a call for comment early Thursday.

Terri Schiavo, 40, can breathe on her own but relies on a feeding and hydration tube to live. Courts have concluded she is in a “persistent vegetative state.” She left no written will before suffering brain damage when her heart temporarily stopped beating 14 years ago.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has tried to have her feeding tube removed because he said she wouldn’t want to be kept alive artificially. The Schindlers disagree, saying there is a chance she could recover.

At Thursday’s hearing, Gibbs had planned to argued for a new trial to determine if Schiavo, a Roman Catholic, would choose to have her feeding tube removed after recent statements by Pope John Paul II.

At a conference in March, the pope said people in vegetative states have a right to health care and nutrition.

Michael Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, has said the pope’s words were not an official religious pronouncement banning the removal of feeding tubes.

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the law allowing Gov. Jeb Bush to order the reinsertion of Schiavo’s feeding tube after it was removed last October. Bush’s lawyers have not yet decided to appeal or seek a rehearing. They have until Sunday to ask for a rehearing.

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