More on Schiavo: Florida’s “Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act”
In today’s news, the Florida Circuit Court judge George Greer has extended a stay of the Terri Schiavo case for 2 days to decide whether to prolong the stay further for additional medical tests or follow the termination order of the previous stay by the State Appeals Court allowing the husband to direct the physicians to remove Terri’s feeding tube. However, don’t be surprised if the Florida legislature rushes to complete and the governor signs into law HB 701 2005 filed Feb 4 2005 and reviewed in three House committees on Feb 18th. The act was to be titled "Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities
Prevention Act.",and as summarized on the Florida House of Representatives website ”Declares that an incompetent person is presumed to have directed health care providers to provide the necessary nutrition and hydration to sustain life; prohibits a court, proxy, or surrogate from withholding or withdrawing nutrition or hydration except under specified circumstances; provides that the presumption to provide nutrition and hydration is inapplicable under certain circumstances; conforms provisions to changes made by the act; declares that the act supersedes existing court orders otherwise applicable on or after the effective date of the act.” (A pdf copy of the act can be accessed at this link.)
I suspect that the Florida legislature and Governor Jeb Bush are out to prevent the discontinuing of Terri Schiavo’s tube feedings. But this act, seemingly to change years of court rulings for one patient, may nullify the results of ethical and legal consensus regarding the authority of a legal surrogate to provide substituted judgment in medical decision-making.
(Note: My previous posting on the Schiavo case was on January 24, 2005.)