The Missouri Supreme Court turned down a request Thursday to resume food and water for Nancy Cruzan, while demonstrators camped on a hospital's steps to protest removal of the comatose woman's feeding tube.

The court rejected a plea by an anti-euthanasia group that state officials be forced to provide nourishment to Cruzan, whose condition was deteriorating six days after the tube was removed.The court's two-sentence order issued at Jefferson City was signed by Judge Edward Robertson. He wrote the court's November 1988 decision that denied a request by Cruzan's family to halt her food and water.

That 1988 ruling sent the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June in its first right-to-die case that Missouri could require "clear and convincing" evidence that Cruzan would want to die.

The request to resume feeding was filed by attorney Mario Mandina of Lawyers for Life. It listed a Kansas City woman, Yvette Williams, as the plaintiff.

"Nancy can receive love. From what I've been told, she responds to her nurses. She can follow people with her eyes. I care for four kids who can't track people with their eyes. That does not mean we should kill them," said Williams, a 27-year-old graphic artist who works part-time at a mental retardation center. She was quoted in The Joplin Globe Thursday.

Joining her quest Thursday morning was Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. He arrived at the rehabilitation hospital and was trying to meet with Cruzan's parents, a spokesman said.

Joe and Joyce Cruzan will not meet with Terry, their attorney, William Colby, said.

"There is enough pain from the auto accident that to compound that by having a group of strangers who never knew Nancy interfering with the medical decisions is inappropriate," the lawyer said.

The Cruzans contend their 33-year-old daughter would not want to live in the persistent vegetative state she has experienced since a 1983 car accident.

After the U.S. Supreme Court set the standard of "clear and convincing" evidence, the Cruzans went back to local court. There, three of Cruzan's co-workers testified they had talked about such a situation and Cruzan had indicated she would want to die.

Probate Judge Charles Teel ruled Friday sufficient evidence existed to allow the tube to be removed.

Cruzan's condition went from stable to deteriorating on Wednesday, rehabilitation center spokeswoman Barbara Shoun said. Doctors expected her to live a week or two after the tube was removed Friday.