ATLANTA — A federal appeals court agreed early today to consider a petition for a new hearing on whether to reconnect Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
The ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals came as the severely brain-damaged woman entered another day without nourishment.
Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have maintained that Schiavo would want to be kept alive and have asked the courts to intervene. Schiavo's husband, Michael, insists he is carrying out her wishes by having the feeding tube disconnected.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed with her parents in Pinellas Park, Fla., and joined conservatives in calling for state lawmakers to order her feeding tube reinserted.
Jackson was invited by Schiavo's parents to meet with activists outside the hospice where she is being kept.
"I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," Jackson said. "This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes."
Jackson's visit provided an emotional boost to Schiavo's parents and siblings.
Although supporters of the Schindlers have claimed the woman is being denied comfort measures such as ice chips for her dry mouth or balm for chapped lips, George J. Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, defended how Terri Schiavo is being cared for.
"Obviously, the parents and the siblings are desperate. Desperation may lead to different perceptions," Felos told CNN. "I can only tell you what I've seen, and Terri is dying a very peaceful, cared-for death."
Jackson said he asked Michael Schiavo for permission to see the brain-damaged woman but was denied. Jackson also telephoned black legislators in a last-ditch effort to bring back a bill that would prohibit severely brain-damaged patients from being denied food and water if they didn't express their wishes in writing.
Lawmakers rejected the legislation earlier this month and appeared unlikely to reconsider it.
One of those contacted by Jackson, Democratic state Sen. Gary Siplin, said he told Jackson the issue had been "thoroughly discussed."
Senate Democratic leader Les Miller added: "I have voted. It's time to move on."
The chief sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Daniel Webster, said he knew of no changed votes and that Jackson's efforts may have come too late.
After his visit Tuesday, Bob Schindler described his daughter as failing. "She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances," he said. "You can see the impact of no food and water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her."
First Lady Laura Bush also commented on the case Tuesday, saying the government was right to have intervened on behalf of Schiavo.
"It is a life issue that really does require government to be involved," Bush said aboard a plane bound for Afghanistan, where she was to promote education and women's rights.
During Jackson's visit, a man was tackled to the ground by officers when he tried to storm into the hospice, police said. He became the 47th protester arrested since the feeding tube was removed March 18.
Doctors have said Terri Schiavo, 41, would probably die within two weeks of the tube being removed. She suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped for several minutes because of a chemical imbalance caused by an eating disorder.