TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida senator is proposing adding a fifth option for terminal patients: the right to a “death with dignity.”

Democratic Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-Broward) introduced the “Death with Dignity Act,” which if passed would allow a terminal patient of mental and psychiatric competency to be “empowered to choose where and when they wish to end their suffering,” according to a press release issued after the bill was filed.

Senate Bill 864 would give patients suffering from a terminal illness and who are expected to live less than six months to choose to die with medical assistance, “in accordance with their own beliefs and values.”

As written, a terminal patient must work with an attending physician and, of sound mind and while legally competent, choose to end their own life. To do so, they must consult a physician and undergo counseling to determine their competency, proving they are not suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression that would impair their judgment.

Once a patient’s attending physician’s terminal diagnosis is confirmed by a consulting physician, per the provision of SB 864, the patient can choose to receive a medication, which would “end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.”

To qualify for this process, a patient must be diagnosed with a medically confirmed condition, caused by injury, illness, or incurable and irreversible disease, which will cause their death within six months.

“With this bill, we hope to have Florida join 10 other states and Washington, D.C. in guaranteeing an individual’s right to make their own health care decisions,” Book said. “This law would not increase the number of deaths in Florida – it would simply increase compassionate, patient-centered end-of-life options for patients with a terminal illness when the last days of their life become too unbearable.”

Her statement on the bill says that the ability to end their own life and end their suffering is “essential” for a patient’s liberty and autonomy, and that the bill would guarantee this fundamental right.

Additionally, the bill contains provisions to allow physicians and other health professionals, as well as health facilities, to choose not to participate in the process, allow patients to change their minds should they wish for more time, as well as create safeguards aimed at preventing a patient being coerced or influenced to undertake the option to medically end their life before a terminal diagnosis does so.

The bill requires patients make at least two verbal requests to end their own lives to their attending physicians. Following a second request, a patient can submit another in writing. Each request must include time for a patient to rescind it, with a physician unable to prescribe a life-ending medication until at least 48 hours after it is requested by a qualified patient.

Additionally, if a patient does submit a request for a humane, medical death, a witness must be present for when they submit the written plea for their death. Witnesses present must include at least one individual who is not a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption, nor entitled to a portion of the person’s estate upon their death, nor an owner, operator, or employee of the health care facility where the person lives or is being treated.

Attending physicians must affirm that all requirements of the legislation have been met before carrying out the request.