After losing their most recent emergency petition to the Florida Supreme court, the lawyer for Mrs Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said all options for having their daughter’s feeding tube reinserted had been exhausted.

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t be open to any idea that comes up. But at this point, it appears that time has finally run out,” David Gibbs told the St Petersburg (Florida) Times newspaper.

The Schindler family has lost almost 30 legal attempts in both state and federal courts since contesting Mrs Schiavo’s husband’s request that his wife be allowed to die.

Michael Schiavo has legal guardianship of his wife, who he says would not wish to be kept in a persistent vegetative state.

Terri Schiavo, 41, suffered severe brain damage after a heart attack in 1990 cut off the supply of oxygen to her brain.

Outside the Woodside Hospice, in Pinellas Park, Florida, supporters of the Schindler family’s bid to keep Terri alive continued their vigil.

Four people were arrested at the hospice, including a Christian pastor, after challenging police to let them through with wine and bread to deliver Easter communion to Mrs Schiavo.

The unrest prompted Mrs Shiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, to ask for calm among protesters who were told to go home and attend church on Easter Sunday.

“But not to stay home. We want people to continue to be here with Terri and us,” Gary McCullough, a spokesman for the Schindler family said, reading a statement by Bob Schindler.

It’s been reported the tussle over Mrs Schiavo could persist after her death, with Mr Schiavo and the Schindler’s disagreeing over the manner of her interment.

The Times online news service reported Mr Schiavo has obtained a court order to have his wife cremated, despite her family’s Catholic beliefs.

He reportedly plans to have her ashes deposited in a vault in Pennsylvania, more than 1,500 kilometres away from the Schindler’s Florida home.

Doctors do not expect Mrs Schiavo to live beyond two weeks after the removal of her feeding tube, which was taken out on March 18th.