So you thought you already knew that assisted suicide is not lawful in Hawaii? Well, sure, we all did. If you keep up with the laws of our state, you will know that assisted suicide is indeed not lawful in Hawaii. However, in a interesting twist, An obscure law from 1909 intended to ease suffering of Hansen’s disease patients has brought into question assisted suicide.
It seems as though even this special situation still does not make physician-assisted suicide legal in Hawaii. This according to an opinion by the state attorney general’s office.
This is what in a response to an inquiry from state Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, who sought clarification of the law amid reports that supporters of physician-assisted suicide were seeking a patient willing to test the statute, was told:
“We do not believe that (Hawaii Revised Statutes) 453-1 provides authority for a physician to assist with dying,” the opinion states. “A physician who provided such assistance could be charged under Hawaii’s manslaughter statute.”
Supporters of so-called “death with dignity” legislation say the opinion is too narrow.
When considered along with the Pain Patient’s Bill of Rights, the advance health care directive law and the state Constitution’s privacy clause, there exists “a constellation of laws, all of which reflect that it is the policy of the state of Hawaii to vest its citizens with broad autonomy over end-of-life decision-making,” said Sylvia Law, a professor at the New York University School of Law who works with the group Compassion & Choices.
“Taken together, Hawaii’s provisions support a finding that it is the policy of the state to ensure citizens are able to effectively treat their pain and to refuse or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, and to vest its citizens with broad autonomy over end-of-life decision-making,” Law said in a written statement.
This issue – like many others, seems to be a highly contested debate in Hawaii. Should people have the right to “die with dignity?” Or is that putting too much pressure on the people who have to “pull the plug” so to speak. No matter how you slice it, it seems that this issue of assisted suicide is still a resounding “NO” vote, or at least that’s what we think. Let’s see what the poll below turns up.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon Washington. While Montana has not technically legalized assisted suicide, law does allow for doctors who assist a patient’s suicide a potential defense to criminal prosecution. A proposal before the Hawaii Legislature to make it legal here stalled in committee last year after a lengthy and emotional public hearing.
That got us thinking here. We wanted to take a little survey of our own to see how people who read this article felt. Please take a moment to vote on whether or not assisted suicide should be legalized in Hawaii.