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News of the Day ... In Perspective


New Florida law makes it easier to end lives of the disabled

Effective July 1, the Florida Evidence Code has been modified to make hearsay testimony about an incapacitated person’s oral declarations admissible in a court of law.

If a person without a written declaration becomes incapacitated, a friend or family member can have medical treatment (or food and water) ended by claiming that they remember the patient’s saying that he wouldn’t want to be kept alive.

The bill repeals provisions related to the testimony of “interested” (i.e. potentially conflicted) persons.

H523 was passed unanimously by both houses of the legislature and signed by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Critics say that the bill reduces the rights and protection of vulnerable persons.

“Considering the dangers that already exist for Floridians who have been deemed incompetent by the court, this act could effectively remove bars against abuses of the incapacitated person’s financial interests and medical treatment desires by the guardian or other interested parties by allowing hearsay to be considered evidence in guardianship proceedings,” stated Pamela Hennessey, spokesman for the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation.

Additional information:

Search for H523 at www.flsenate.gov

State laws relating to protection against euthanasia: www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/StatesList.html.

“Why Terri Schiavo Had to Die,” AAPS News, May 2005

“Dependency and Death,” AAPS News, June 2005

“The Perilous Vegetative State” by Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, J Am Phys Surg, Summer 2005.

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