Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the heart of an epic legal and political dispute in the United States, has died at the age of 41. President Bush offered his condolences and urged Americans, in his words, "to build a culture of life where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected..."
Mrs. Schiavo died at a Florida hospice, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed with the approval of a Florida state judge. A top Vatican cardinal (Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins) today condemned the removal of the tube, calling it "an attack against God." Her ordeal has drawn international attention as President Bush and Congress backed her parents efforts to keep her alive. But state and federal courts ruled repeatedly in favor of her husband Michael, who insisted his wife did not want to be kept alive artificially. Doctors say Mrs. Schiavo spent her last 15 years in a vegetative state brought on by a 1990 heart attack.