February 15, 2024

What is Death with Dignity & Assisted Suicide? Are they legal in Florida?

Unfortunately, we are often asked questions about hospice care, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. People in favor of these concepts commonly use the term death with dignity, whereas opponents use the term assisted suicide. The American Medical Association uses the term medical aid in dying. Most state governments that allow some form of medically assisted suicide have settled on the term death with dignity.

Assisted suicide is commonly known as medical aid in dying or physician-assisted suicide. This can be defined as a procedure in which people take medications to end their own life with the help of medical professionals. The traditional role for the medical professional is merely the writing of a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs, not the administration of such drugs.

Euthanasia is defined as the process by which a physician actively administers the life-ending substance. Euthanasia is actually legal in some countries including Belgium, Colombia, Canada, and Spain. Euthanasia is a criminal offense in the United States.

According to the Hospice Foundation of America, hospice is the providing of customized and targeted medical care for individuals with a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice care usually includes a team of medical professionals trained to address the physical, spiritual, and psychological needs of the patient, and sometimes the family members of the patient. Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid (in almost every state), and by most health insurance plans. It is not medical care meant to hasten the death of a patient. Rather, it is meant to comfort the patient when the patient decides to no longer make efforts to prolong their life from an illness, condition, or disease.

Medical aid in dying is legal in ten of the fifty United States plus the District of Columbia. The ten states with aid in dying laws are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Death with dignity is not allowed in Florida. Legislation was first introduced in 2020, and there are now companion bills in the Florida House and the Florida Senate for 2024. These proposed laws are known as the Florida End of Life Options Act. Such legislative efforts have not yet succeeded.

Contact Revis, Hervas & Goldberg P.A.

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