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Doctors have announced the death of Terri Schiavo in Pinellas Park, Florida. Schiavo, 41 and in a persistent vegetative state for the last 15 years, died at the hospice where she lay for years while her husband and her parents battled over the issue of disconnecting her feeding tube.

The case became a political issue in recent weeks as the Republican-dominated Congress, supported by the Bush administration, rushed emergency legislation that superceded Florida state courts and mandated an appeal of the Schiavo case to the federal judiciary.

The federal appeals courts declined, however, to overrule the state courts'support of husband Michael Schiavo's decision to allow his wife the natural death which he said she would have wished.

The first reaction to Terri Schiavo's death by a Tennessee lawmaker came from Sen. Bill Frist, a physician who had supported the federal reviews based on his interpretation of a videotape of Terri Schiavo.

Said Frist on Thursday: "Today I join with all those mourning Terri Schiavo's passing. I am deeply saddened by her loss. I pray for her mother and father, her family, and all those involved in this regrettable loss of life. May God bless her memory."

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