The Terri Schiavo case (surname pronounced /ˈʃaɪvoʊ/) was a legal battle between the legal guardians and the parents of Teresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo that lasted from 1998 to 2005. At issue was whether the husband's granted motions and later court findings to forgo further life-prolonging procedures or life support treatment for Terri, who was in a persistent vegetative state, would be carried out. The highly-publicized and prolonged series of legal challenges presented by the parents and by state and federal legislative intervention effected in total a seven-year delay before finally being properly carried out. In carrying out those decisions, the staff at the facility where Terri was being cared for disconnected a feeding tube and did not make any attempt or allow anyone else to make any attempt to provide her with regular food and water orally, thereby soon leading to her death via dehydration.
Terri Schiavo collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida home in full cardiac arrest on February 25, 1990. She suffered massive brain damage due to lack of oxygen and, after two and a half months in a coma, her diagnosis was elevated to vegetative state. For the next few years doctors attempted physical therapy and other experimental therapy, hoping to return Terri to a state of awareness. In 1998 Schiavo's husband, Michael, petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida (Pinellas County), to remove her feeding tube pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 765.401(3). He was opposed by Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, who argued that she was conscious. The court determined that she would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures, and on April 24, 2001 Terri's feeding tube was removed for the first time, only to be reinserted several days later. On February 25, 2005, a Pinellas County judge ordered the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Several appeals and federal government intervention followed, which included U.S. President George W. Bush returning to Washington D.C. to sign legislation designed to keep her alive. After all attempts at appeals through the federal court system were unsuccessful, Schiavo's feeding tube was disconnected on March 18, 2005. She died at a Pinellas Park hospice on March 31.
In all, the Schiavo case involved 14 appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; five suits in federal district court; Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; a subpoena by a congressional committee to qualify Schiavo for witness protection; federal legislation (the Palm Sunday Compromise); and four denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States. The case also spurred highly visible activism from the pro-life movement and disability rights groups.