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Ruling in Fla. feeding-tube case

A man who has fought to remove the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife won a round in court Friday when a judge said his suit against Gov. Jeb Bush may proceed.

A man who has fought a long legal battle to remove the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife, only to have the state pass a special law to thwart him, won another round in court Friday when a judge ruled that his suit against Gov. Jeb Bush may proceed.

AFTER A SHORT hearing, Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird said Michael Schiavo had successfully defended Terri Schiavo’s right not to be kept alive artificially. Any delays in removing the feeding tube and letting her die violate her constitutional right to privacy, the judge said.

“The deprivation of this right is immediate, ongoing and presumptively unconstitutional,” Baird said from the bench.

Michael Schiavo had his wife’s feeding tube removed last month after years of legal battles with her parents, but the governor ordered the tube reinserted six days later under a hastily passed state law. Schiavo then sued Bush.

Bush’s attorneys appealed, triggering an automatic stay, but the judge overrode the stay Friday and gave Bush’s attorneys until Monday to submit a brief defending the constitutionality of the new law.

The judge said the new law’s constitutionality will be determined in another hearing, which hasn’t been scheduled.

Terry Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when her heart temporarily stopped, cutting off oxygen to her brain. After testimony from doctors, a judge ruled that she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

Her husband says she would not want to be kept alive artificially, while her parents dispute the findings and believe she could improve with therapy.

Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, said Bush’s appeal was a delaying tactic and Baird’s ruling recognized that.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the judge’s decision to vacate the stay,” Felos said. He called on Bush to abandon any further delays and allow the matter to be litigated.

Amy Quezon, who argued the motion on behalf of Bush, declined to comment.

Officials in Bush’s office have denied trying to delay the case, saying that they are just trying to make Felos follow the rules.

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