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46 Fla. L. Rev. 347 (1994)
Constitutional Law: The Limits of a Patient's Right to Refuse Medical Treatment

handle is hein.journals/uflr46 and id is 355 raw text is: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: THE LIMITS OF A PATIENT'S
In re Dubreuil, 629 So. 2d 819 (Fla. 1993)
Troy Rillo*
Respondent sought an emergency declaratory judgment to determine
whether it had the authority or the duty to administer life-saving blood
transfusions to petitioner.' Petitioner refused to consent to the transfu-
sions,2 arguing that she had a constitutional right to refuse medical treat-
ment Respondent argued that the blood transfusions should be autho-
rized to prevent petitioner from abandoning her minor children.4 The trial
court agreed with respondent and authorized the transfusions.5 The Fourth
District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment.' The Florida
Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction,7 quashed the district court's judg-
ment,' and HELD, respondent presented insufficient evidence to prove
that petitioner would abandon her children if she were to die.9
Courts have held that a patient has a constitutional right to refuse
medical treatment. Courts also have held, however, that a state may
have a superior interest which may limit the patient's right to refuse treat-
ment. Preventing minor children from being abandoned is one State in-
* I dedicate this comment to my wonderful wife, Ana, who made the last three years of law
school tolerable and whose sacrifices so often go unappreciated.
1. In re Dubreuil, 629 So. 2d 819, 821 (Fla. 1993). Respondent, the South Broward Hospital
District, originally petitioned the court for declaratory judgment on behalf of Memorial Hospital. Id. at
821 n.4.
2. Id. at 820. Petitioner refused to consent to the transfusions because of her religious beliefs.
3. Id. at 821. Petitioner argued that her state and federal constitutional rights of privacy, bodily
self-determination, and religious freedom encompassed the right to refuse medical treatment. Id.
4. Id. at 824. Although the State was not properly joined as a party, respondent asserted the
State's interests. Id.
5. Id. at 821. After the trial court authorized the transfusions, petitioner moved for rehearing in
order to prove that her children would be properly cared for if she died. Id. The trial court denied
petitioner's motion for rehearing. Id.
6. Id.
7. Id. at 822. By the time this appeal was heard, petitioner had received blood transfusions and
was released from the hospital. Id. Thus, the issue presented had become moot Id. However, the Flor-
ida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction because the issue presented was of great public importance,
likely to recur, and might have otherwise evaded review. Id.
8. Id. at 828.
9. Id. The court reasoned that the district court erred by presuming the children would be aban-
doned in the absence of proof to the contrary. Id.
10. See, e.g., Rasmussen v. Fleming, 741 P.2d 674, 682 (Ariz. 1987); Satz v. Perlmutter, 379 So.
2d 359, 360 (Fla. 1980).
11. See, e.g., In re Guardianship of Browning, 568 So. 2d 4, 14 (Fla. 1990); Rasmussen, 741

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