Brain-damaged woman kept alive after state rushes through Bill

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The Independent US

Doctors were last night ordered to reinsert the feeding tube that had kept a brain-damaged American woman alive for the past 13 years, a week after a court ordered it to be removed.

Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, made the ruling after state legislators hurriedly passed laws that gave him the power to intervene. Mr Bush signed the Bill yesterday evening, having previously said he was legally unable to get involved. "This is a response to a tragic situation," said Mr Bush. "People are responding to cries for help and I think it's legitimate."

The ruling means that Terri Schiavo, aged 39, who has lain in bed unable to speak since 1990, will be kept alive, at least in the short-term.

Last week, a court refused to overturn a previous ruling that had granted permission to Mrs Schiavo's husband and legal guardian, Michael, to have the tube removed.

As a result of that ruling her feeding tube was removed last Wednesday and doctors said they expected her to die within two weeks.

The legislation was passed after intense campaigning by Mrs Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who believe that with proper therapy their daughter may be able to learn to swallow. They are bitterly opposed to Mr Schiavo's efforts to allow his wife to die.

Last night Mrs Schiavo's sister, Suzanne Carr, called the development "a miracle, an absolute miracle". She said her mother had broken down crying.

Mr Schindler said: "We're not home yet, but we're damn near there. We are just ecstatic. It's restored my belief in God."

Mrs Schiavo's husband plans to appeal against the decision - a process that could ultimately lead to the Supreme Court. He has fought for six years to have his wife's feeding tube removed, claiming that she had always said she would never wish to live on a life-support machine.