PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) —Described by her father as weak and emaciated, Terri Schiavo clung to life yesterday, as police stepped up security outside her hospice room and demonstrators prayed for last-minute government intervention in her case.Supporters of prolonging the severely brain-damaged woman’s life carried their protests to the White House and Congress, while her father repeated his plea that she be kept alive.“She’s still communicating, she’s still responding. She’s emaciated, but she’s responsive,” Bob Schindler told reporters after a morning visit with his daughter, saying that she showed facial expressions when he hugged and kissed her. “Don’t give up on her. We haven’t given up on her, and she hasn’t given up on us.”Schiavo, 41, was in her 11th day without the feeding tube that sustained her for 15 years. Her parents pressed again for President Bush, Congress and the president’s brother Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene to have the tube reinserted, and a small group of supporters protested outside the White House gates.Schindler said he recognized that his daughter was dying but insisted that it was not too late to keep her alive, and that she was “fighting like hell to live and she’s begging for help.”George Felos, the attorney for husband Michael Schiavo, told reporters later that he had visited Schiavo for more than an hour last Tuesday and described her as “very peaceful. She looked calm.”“I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever,” Felos said.Felos also said that the chief medical examiner for Pinellas County, Dr. John Thogmartin, had agreed to perform an autopsy on Schiavo. He said that her husband wants proof of the extent of her brain damage.As Schiavo drew closer to death, extra police officers blocked the road in front of the hospice, and an elementary school next door was closed so students could avoid the crowd.After overnight wind and rain thinned their ranks, about 100 protesters returned yesterday with signs and renewed prayers. The day also saw some of the harshest rhetoric, with some in the crowd mocking the police by goose-stepping like Nazis.President Bush’s aides have said they have run out of legal options. The governor said Monday that while it “made sense” to have federal courts review the case, he had to respect their decisions last week not to order the tube reinserted.Schiavo’s parents dispute that their daughter is in a persistent vegetative state as court-ordered doctors have determined. Michael Schiavo contends his wife told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially.At least two more state-filed appeals seeking the feeding tube’s reconnection were pending, but those challenges were before a Florida appeals court that had rejected the governor’s previous efforts in the case.Doctors said Schiavo would probably die within a week or two when the feeding tube was pulled out on March 18. She suffered catastrophic brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped because of a chemical imbalance.Schindler said he feared the consequences of morphine that has been used to relieve his daughter’s pain.“I have a great concern that they will expedite the process to kill her with an overdose of morphine because that’s the procedure that happens,” he said.Felos disputed that, saying that hospice records show Schiavo was given two low doses of morphine — one on March 19 and another on March 26 — and that she was not on a morphine drip.Hospice spokesman Mike Bell said federal rules kept him from discussing Schiavo specifically, but said “a fundamental part of hospice is that we would do nothing to either hasten or postpone natural death.”Comfort measures, including morphine drips, are used in consultation with a patient’s guardian, physician and hospice care team, Bell said.

Chelsea Trull
Rosemarie Mitchell, of Panama City Beach, Fla., yells at Brian Wilson, of Pinellas Park, Fla., outside the Woodside Hospice where Terri Schiavo is a patient, yesterday in Pinellas Park, Fla. Wilson argued that the protesters should go home. (AP Photo)

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