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Ruling ends feeding of comatose woman

CLEARWATER, Florida (CNN) -- Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman at the center of a bitter legal tug-of-war between her husband and her parents, should be disconnected from her feeding tube and allowed to die, a judge has ruled.

Her parents aruged that Schiavo, who has been in a coma for 11 years after suffering a heart attack in 1990, should be kept alive while her husband wanted her to be allowed to die.

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Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer said on Tuesday that Schiavo's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, did not provide sufficient proof that Schiavo might recover meaningful function or that her husband, Michael, committed perjury during an earlier trial when he testified she had expressed a wish not to be kept alive by artificial means.

Greer ordered that the feeding tube be removed on August 28 at 3 p.m. EDT. Without the tube, Schiavo, 37, will starve to death within weeks.

The tube had been removed in April, after an earlier ruling by Greer.

Both the Florida and United States supreme courts had refused to intervene. But three days later, a different Florida circuit court judge ordered the feeding resumed when the Schindlers filed a new lawsuit.

They accused Michael Schiavo of lying when he testified his wife had said she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means. They also said she was still mentally aware and her condition could be improved by new medical technology.

Michael Schiavo appealed. Though a Florida appellate court ruled in his favor in July, it gave the Schindlers another opportunity to go back to Greer and present their evidence before the tube would be removed.

However, the appeals court required the parents to prove that "significant new evidence or substantial changes in circumstance" had made Greer's previous order to remove the tube "no longer equitable."

Greer said the evidence presented by the parents did not meet that burden, including information about a treatment in which a "hyperbaric" chamber is used to force oxygen into a patient's system. The judge said the treatment was experimental and had been used on people with impaired motor skills, rather than people like Schiavo with an "absence of cognitive brain function."

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