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Lawmakers introduce federal legislation on Schiavo case

[JURIST] Federal lawmakers from Florida have introduced legislation that would allow federal courts to hear habeas petitions involving an incapacitated person whose life support is expected to be removed, allowing the parents of Terri Schiavo to challenge state court rulings allowing her husband to have her feeding tube removed. FL Sen. Mel Martinez, with support from FL Rep. Dave Weldon, filed Tuesday S. 539 [bill summary], which would extend federal habeas protections to incapacitated persons. Martinez said incapacitated persons such as Schiavo should have the same due process protections as those on death row. Terri's husband Michael Schiavo's attorney said the bill would lead to never-ending petitions for review of state court decisions. Previously, Florida state courts have ruled that Michael Schiavo could have Terri's feeding tube removed, although a judge issued a stay of that order that has delayed any action until March 18. Terri's parents Bob and Mary Schindler, who oppose removing the feeding tube, sought a new battery of medical tests [AP report] Tuesday to determine whether there is a chance Schiavo could regain brain function. Schiavo suffered severe brain damage when her heart stopped beating for several minutes in 1990. AP has more.

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