Thursday, March 24, 2005

Court Making Sausage, er, Law

The Florida Supreme Court and feeding tubes.

Let's take a step back. Statutes are one form of law in Florida, but there is another form of law that's higher: the Florida Constitution. In 1980, Florida's citizens amended Florida's constitution to add a right of privacy to Floridians' fundamental rights. The Florida Supreme Court addressed this right in the 1990 case In re Browning. Florida's high court determined that the constitutional right of privacy includes the right to decline any medical treatment, including the use of a feeding tube. The court said:

Courts overwhelmingly have held that a person may refuse or remove artificial life-support, whether supplying oxygen by a mechanical respirator or supplying food and water through a feeding tube. We agree and find no significant legal distinction between these artificial means of life-support.