Timeline: The Legal Struggle

For the nation, it has been a short-term drama. But for Terri Schiavo's husband and family, it has been 15 years of anguish, accusations and court battles.

  • •1990 Terri Schiavo suffers brain damage during cardiac arrest, a result of a potassium imbalance that may have been caused by her suspected bulimia. She emerges from her coma but does not regain consciousness. A Florida court appoints her husband Michael guardian.

    •1992 Michael sues Terri's doctor and in November wins $750,000 for her and $300,000 for himself. Her money is put in a trust for her care. There is no evidence the fund is mismanaged. It now reportedly contains $50,000.

    •1993 Robert and Mary Schindler fall out with Michael over their daughter's care. He says they want some of the malpractice money. A judge dismisses their suit to remove him as guardian.

    •1994 After consulting with doctors, Michael concludes his wife will not recover. He authorizes a do-not-resuscitate order in case of a heart attack.

    •1998 Michael petitions a court for the removal of Terri's feeding tube. The Schindlers oppose it.

    •2000 Florida state Judge George Greer rules that Terri would not have wanted to continue being kept alive. He orders her feeding tube removed but stays the order to allow the Schindlers to appeal.

    •2001 In April the Florida Supreme Court denies the Schindlers' appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to take the case. Terri's feeding tube is removed on April 24, but is reconnected two days later, after the Schindlers file a civil suit alleging that Michael lied about Terri's aversion to life support.

    In October a Florida appellate court appoints five doctors--two chosen by each side and one by the court--to examine Terri to determine if her condition can be improved.

    •2002 After hearing the testimony of the five doctors, Judge Greer rules there is no substantial evidence that Terri's condition can be improved. He orders the feeding tube withdrawn, but the order is postponed.

    •2003 Failing to stop Greer's order in Florida's courts, the Schindlers file a federal suit. They appeal to Catholic and pro-life groups. In October, Florida Governor Jeb Bush files a brief in support of the Schindlers. After Terri's tube is disconnected on Oct. 15, the state legislature passes "Terri's Law" to allow the Governor to order the tube reinserted. The President praises his brother. Michael sues over the law's constitutionality.

    •2004 Florida state Judge W. Douglas Baird rules Terri's Law unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court agrees.

    •January 2005 The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the Schindler appeal.

    •February 2005 As the Florida legislature tries in vain to come up with a new law to intercede, Greer denies a motion by Florida's Department of Children & Families to intervene. He orders the tube disconnected on March 18.

    •March 18, 2005 As the House and Senate in Washington debate intervening, Terri's feeding tube is removed.

    •March 21, 2005 After the House and Senate agree on a bill that lets the case be heard in federal court, the President signs it into law at 1:11 a.m.

    •March 23-26, 2005 The Schindlers lodge repeated appeals in state and federal courts in succession as all are denied.