Thursday, May 23, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Pro-Assisted Suicide Advocates Falsely Advertise Suicide as Legal in Hawaii
By Selected News Articles @ 2:41 AM :: 7682 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

by Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Earlier this month, Hawaii Death With Dignity, a group which promotes doctor-prescribed death, held a meeting at their state capital announcing Hawaii was the 4th state to legalize assisted suicide. This is flat-out incorrect on several grounds.

First, assisted suicide has been specifically legalized in only two states– Oregon and Washington. In addition, due to a 2010 court decision in Montana, a physician there who aided in a suicide would, at a criminal or civil trial, be allowed to try to claim that the victim consented.

Second, despite well over one hundred legislative efforts, pro-assisted suicide forces have yet to be successful in any state legislature. They have come close to victory many times, even in Hawaii, but have thus far only been successful using two ballot initiative campaigns. So why would Hawaii Death With Dignity announce the state had suddenly legalized doctor prescribed death?

Surely the group was not referring to its huge loss in 2011. A Hawaii legislative panel unanimously voted down a bill that would have legalized physician-assisted following 4½ hours of testimony overwhelmingly against the proposal – mainly from disability rights advocates. Further, if physician assisted suicide is “already legal” in Hawaii, why have suicide law proponents been trying to pass this kind of legislation in the state for well over a decade? There was no legislative victory; there was no ballot initiative. What they relied on was an over 100-year-old arcane statute dealing with pain relief options.

A provision of the Hawaii Revised Statute [§ 453-1] states that “When a duly licensed physician or osteopathic physician pronounces a person affected with any disease hopeless and beyond recovery and gives a written certificate to that effect to the person affected or the person’s attendant nothing herein shall forbid any person from giving or furnishing any remedial agent or measure when so requested by or on behalf of the affected person.” Originally added in 1909, the provision had the purpose of allowing dying patients the option of obtaining therapy that had not yet been approved by the government.

Even if one were somehow able to stretch one’s imagination to conclude that a statute aimed at helping people get alternative pain therapy intended that the patient die, there is a simpler answer. Under Hawaii’s very active, and very real manslaughter statute [§ 707-702], a person is guilty of manslaughter if the “person intentionally causes another person to commit suicide.”

So why does Hawaii Death With Dignity rely on the 1909 provision? This sort of approach gives the pro-doctor prescribed death people what they are really after. The whole time that the national parent organization, Compassion and Choices, goes state-by- state attempting to lobby for assisted suicide, its typical approach is to promote the Oregon style law, one that contains so-called “safeguards.” These include mainly superficial requirements, including having a diagnosed terminal illness, making two separate requests, residency, reporting, and giving some lip service to competency.

How can the Death With Dignity promoters have it both ways? If this 1909 statute were really the basis for assisted suicide, then there would be none of the safeguards they claim to embrace. This echoes the behavior on display in Montana.

After one of the lower courts rendered a pro-assisted suicide decision that gave no guidance as to safeguards, Kathryn Tucker, the legal director for Compassion and Choices said lawmakers shouldn’t feel the need to pass any legislation, adding, “There are some guidelines. It’s not a free-for-all.”

In fact, had that decision stood, it would have been a “free for all.” If the 1909 statute made assisted suicide legal, which it does not, then Hawaii would quickly become a breeding ground for abuse of those at the worst time in their lives – those who are sick and contemplating suicide.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii