Document Type


Publication Date

January 1970


In the 1969 session of the Florida legislature, a state representative introduced a bill to deal with the problem of the hopeless patient. This bill would have amended the Florida constitution by incorporating into section 2 of the Declaration of Rights the right "to be permitted to die with dignity." Following the failure of the bill to be reported out of committee, the legislator recast the proposal as a statute and prefiled it in the House of Representatives. The proposal now provides that any person may execute, with the formalities required for execution of a will, a document stating that he has exercised the right to die with dignity and directing that his life not be prolonged "beyond the point of a meaningful existence." Upon a determination by the attending physician that the patient's condition was hopeless and that he was beyond recovery, the patient's directive would be carried out by terminating all medication and any artificial means of sustaining life. If the patient were physically or mentally incapable of making such a decision, then the spouse or, in the case of an unmarried or widowed individual, a majority of those persons of first degree kinship would be permitted to request the cessation of treatment when it was unnaturally pro- longing an unmeaningful existence. Finally, in the case of a patient incapable of making a decision 6 and without relatives, three doctors would be permitted to make the request to a circuit judge. In each case, before any treatment was terminated, the doctors would have the responsibility of determining from a medical standpoint, whether all meaningful life had passed. With the exception of the last situation, this determination could only occur if the patient or his next of kin had affirmatively indicated a desire for the cessation of treatment.This note will examine several aspects of the death with dignity proposal: present law in the area and the effect of the proposed statute upon it; possibilities of achieving the same result under current law; societal attitudes toward such a proposal; and moral and individual choices regarding the nature of death.

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