16 March 2005

Terri's Law II - The Details

Senate Bill 804, sponsored by Senator Dan Webster (R-Winter Park) and House Bill 701, sponsored by Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), have been filed in the Florida Legislature and are scheduled to be heard on Thursday, March 17, 2005 and voted on the following day, Friday, March 18th.

The two bills are essentially the same and do the following:

Artificially provided sustenance and hydration may not be discontinued for a person in a persistent vegetative state (1) if the purpose of the feeding tube's removal is to end one's life, (2) if interested parties disagree on what the wishes of the patient would be if they could make them known, and (3) no living will exists that authorizes the removal of nutrition and hydration.

Both bills allow government intervention in determining whether to terminate life support for a patient if the government is petitioned by an interested party. The Senate bill limits who would fall under the term "interested parties", but the House bill is vague and ambiguous. Hypothetically, anyone could make a reasonable argument that they are an interested party under the House bill.

The Senate bill limits interested parties to the following persons: a judicially appointed guardian, the patient's spouse, an adult child of the patient, a parent of the patient, an adult sibling of the patient, or an adult relative of the patient.

There exist concerns that both bills may violate Florida's constitutional right of privacy by authorizing the government to supercede the wishes of a patient. Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution provides: "Right of Privacy.--Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into the person's private life..."

The bill is scheduled to be heard for discussion in the Senate and House on Thursday, March 17, 2005. Both bills should come to a vote on Friday, March 18, 2005.

Contact your senator and representative and let them know your thoughts.

Florida Senate - http://www.flsenate.gov/
Florida House of Representatives - http://www.myfloridahouse.com/

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This bill must be stopped. Don't they realize that this would affect everyone in Florida, not just Terry Schiavo. This is Big Brother government, and we as Americans must not tolerate it.

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I agree. The choice of whether to live or die when terminally ill is a horrible decision for anyone to make, but I feel strongly that the government should not be part of it.

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