PINELLAS PARK, Fla.—Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo died today, ending an agonizing 15-year odyssey that divided a family and a nation over her right to die. She was 41.
Schiavo took her last breath at 9:05 a.m., 13 days after her life-sustaining tube was removed by a court order.
sadness that it's been reported to us that Terri Schiavo has passed away," said Paul O'Donnell, a spokesman for the Schindlers. He said her parents would be making a statement later today.
"After an extraordinarily difficult and tragic journey, Terri Schiavo is at rest,'' Gov. Jeb Bush said in a written statement. "Many across our state and around the world are deeply grieved by the way Terri died. I feel that grief very sharply as well. I remain convinced, however, that Terri's death is a window through which we can see the many issues left unresolved in our families and in our society. For that, we can be thankful for all that the life of Terri Schiavo has taught us.
"I still firmly believe that human life is a gift and a mystery, and that its mystery is most evident at its beginning and ending. May all of us whose hearts were moved during the life of Terri Schiavo grow in wisdom at its ending."
President Bush said he joins the millions of Americans saddened by the death of Terri Schiavo.
"The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak," Bush said. "In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in favor of life."
David Gibbs III, lawyer for Schiavo's parents Bob and Mary Schindler, said outside the hospice that the parents were grieving in private. Terri Schiavo's siblings, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne Vitadamo, were in the room with her until 10 minutes before she died, Gibbs said.
"This is indeed a sad day for the nation, for the family. Their faith in God remains strong," Gibbs said. "God loves Terry more than they do. She is at peace."
In Tallahassee, Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, stopped debate on a bill to announce Schiavo's death.
"Regardless of your perspective on end of life issues, it is a very sad moment and it is a very reflective moment for a lot of us and I think it would appropriate to have a moment of silence in her honor," Lee told the Senate.
Sen. Daniel Webster, who unsuccessfully sought support for a bill written to keep Schiavo alive, stood with his eyes closed. Behind him Sen. Gary Siplin, who voted against the bill, held his hands out palm up and also closed his eyes.
In the state House, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, announced Schiavo's death. Baxley was one of the lawmakers pushing for a law with Sen. Webster.
"We've received word this morning that Terri Schiavo has departed this life and gone to her maker," Baxley said. "I know and I'm thankful that God has mercy on the souls of the innocent, and I pray that he'll forgive the rest of us. Our hearts are broken."
A small group of activists sang religious hymns outside the hospice, raising their hands to the sky and closing their eyes.
Dawn Kozsey, 47, a musician who was among those outside Schiavo's hospice, wept when she learned of the woman's death.
"Words cannot express the rage I feel," she said. "Is my heart broken for this? Yes."
A white van with police motorcycle escort took Terri Schiavo's body from the hospice to the Pinellas County medical examiner's office, said Pinellas Park police spokesman Sanfield Forseth. An autopsy was planned, with both sides hoping it would shed more light on the extent of her brain injuries.
Michael Schiavo has said his wife's body will be cremated. A funeral mass, sought by the Schindlers, was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday.