Husband plans autopsy after Schiavo's death

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The Independent US

The battle over Terri Schiavo seems certain to continue after her death, following the announcement that a post-mortem examination would be carried out after she dies to determine the extent of her brain damage.

The battle over Terri Schiavo seems certain to continue after her death, following the announcement that a post-mortem examination would be carried out after she dies to determine the extent of her brain damage.

Twelve days after the feeding tube that has kept Mrs Schiavo alive for the past decade was removed, George Felos, a lawyer for her husband, said an autopsy would be carried out by Dr John Thogmartin, the chief medical examiner for Pinellas County, Florida. Mr Felos said Ms Schiavo's husband, Michael, was determined to prove the severity of his wife's brain damage, suffered 15 years ago, and which court-appointed doctors say has left her in a "persistent vegetative state".

"It is important to have the public know the full and massive extent of the damage to Ms Schiavo's brain," said Mr Felos.

Ms Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, also want a post-mortem examination to be carried out. They believe it will support their allegations that Mr Schiavo has abused their daughter - something he fervently denies. Their lawyer, David Gibbs, said: "We would certainly support and encourage an autopsy to be done."

With Ms Schiavo, 41, approaching death and with her parents' legal options exhausted, there is no suggestion the bitter battle will stop once she is dead. The two sides are also in dispute as to what should happen to Ms Schiavo after she dies.

The Schindlers want their daughter to be buried near their home in Florida following a Roman Catholic funeral. Mr Schiavosaid his wife did not want to be buried, and that he intended to have her remains cremated after the post-mortem examination and then interred in her family plot in Pennsylvania.

After visiting Ms Schiavo, Mr Felos said she looked peaceful in her bed at the Woodside Hospice though her breathing appeared a little rapid. He said Mr Schiavo, who has spent much of the last two weeks with his wife, had placed a toy cat under her arm. "She looked very peaceful. She looked calm," he said. "I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever."

Mr Schindler said of his daughter: "She's still communicating, she's still responding. She's emaciated, but she's responsive."

Yesterday the veteran civil rights leader, the Rev Jesse Jackson, arrived at the hospice, having been invited by the Schindlers. He was not permitted by Mr Schiavo to visit the brain-damaged woman. "I have a right to be here. I have a desire to be here," he told reporters. "She is in our houses and in our lives every day. I think we must consider as a nation what this means. I made a decision to stand with Terri and her parents."

As Ms Schiavo comes closer to dying, police have increased security at the hospice. So far 46 people have been arrested for trying to enter the building and give Ms Schiavo water. A primary school next to the hospice has been closed.

Meanwhile, the Schindlers have authorised a direct-mailing firm to sell a list of the people who have supported them financially in recent weeks. It means that thousands of people who have felt moved to help them will be inundated with e-mails, letters and phone-calls from anti-abortion and other conservative groups.

It was reported by The New York Times that Response Unlimited is charging $500 (£260) a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses for people who responded to the parents' plea for financial support. The Schindlers made the arrangement with the company in exchange for it organising an e-mail solicitation on the family's behalf.

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