Sunday, December 25, 2011

View AG Opinion Rejecting C & C's Claim that Assisted Suicide is "Already Legal"

Per Jim Hochberg, Hawaii State Senator Joshua Green, MD, has authorized release of the Attorney General's opinion rejecting C & C's claim that assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii.  The opinion states in part:

"Dear Senator Green:

Re: Hawaii law on assistance with dying

You have asked (1) whether §453-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), authorizes a physician to assist a terminally ill patient with dying when requested by or on behalf of the patient, and (2) whether any criminal laws prohibit aid in dying.

We are assuming that a physician’s assistance with dying would consist of prescribing a lethal dose of medication that a terminally ill patient could take to bring on a swifter and possibly more peaceful death than would otherwise ensue. Our analysis addresses only this method of assistance. Briefly, (1) we do not believe that §453-1 provides authority for a physician to assist with dying, and (2) a physician who provided such assistance could be charged under Hawaii’s manslaughter statute. . . ."

To view the entire opinion, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Attorney General Rejects Claim That Assisted Suicide is "Already Legal"

The Attorney General of Hawaii has issued a formal opinion rejecting Compassion & Choices' claim that physician-assisted suicide, termed "aid in dying," is legal in Hawaii.

A press release issued by the Alliance Defense Fund describes that Senator Josh Green, MD had requested the opinion from Attorney General David Louie.[1]  The press release states:

"[T]he attorney general's legal opinion states that state law "does not authorize physicians to assist terminally ill patients with dying" and "a physician who provided assistance with death could be charged under Hawaii's manslaughter statute."

The press release also quotes Honolulu attorney Jim Hochberg:  "[N]o one should believe the recent falsehoods that pro-death proponents have spread about [Hawaii] law."


* * * 

[1]  To view the ADF Press Release, click here 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Help Needed: Hawaii Physicians' Rally Against Assisted Suicide December 8, 2011

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/5587/Hawaii-Physicians-Rally-Against-Assisted-Suicide.aspx
Hawaii Free PressFriday, December 02, 2011
by Jackie Mishler, Hawaii Physicians for Compassionate Care

We need your help in opposing Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) at the upcoming session of the Legislature. The Senate Health Committee heard a PAS bill at the 2011 session and voted not to send the bill any further. That should have ended consideration of the issue for 2012 also, but indications are that advocates of PAS may engage in unusual maneuvering to have PAS heard again in the 2012 session.

There is little advance notice of a PAS hearing, so we urge you to prepare your testimony now. The Public Access Room at the Capitol, available at
http://hawaii.gov/lrb/par is set up and staffed to be your resource for preparing and submitting testimony.

There will be a panel presentation on the current status of PAS in Hawaii at the Capitol auditorium on December 8th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. There is no charge. The event is hosted by Senator Mike Gabbard, moderated by Allen Cardines of Hawaii Family Forum, and sponsored by HPACC (Hawaii Partnership for Appropriate and Compassionate Care). Details are available at
http://www.hpacc.org/.

If you are seeking additional information, we provide below a summary of recent events involving PAS in Hawaii and points that can be used in preparing testimony.

In Hawaii:

  • Death with Dignity (DWD), the pro-PAS group, brought over their Mainland attorney to keynote presentations on the issue. Their attorney announced that euthanasia and assisted suicide are already legal in Hawaii, this based on her interpretation of a 1909 law about medical practice definitions concerning Hansen’s disease treatment.
  • DWD then issued nationwide press releases stating PAS was legal in Hawaii. This conforms to a strategy DWD has tried in other states, where they have attempted to jump over any actual consideration of the issue and just pronounce PAS legal through their attorney’s declaration.
  • The Star-Advertiser carried a front page story about a retired physician who wants to assist someone to die so he can prove that PAS is legal in Hawaii. He stated that he doesn’t care if he is prosecuted for doing this and has asked for people to come forward who would like the lethal dosage of medication. DWD is handling email for him.
  • A local resident who would have wanted his wife to die using Physician Assisted Suicide has written a Death-with-Dignity book promoting legalization.
  • In the last decade there have been at least four bills to legalize PAS introduced at the Hawaii Legislature and on which hearings have been held. None have passed. 

NO legislature in the United States has passed an Assisted Suicide bill into law and many have specifically outlawed PAS. Oregon and Washington legalized PAS through heavily funded voter initiatives. In Montana DWD is attempting to have PAS declared legal through the court system, but there has been no resolution to date. DWD has made Hawaii one of their priority states, apparently because they consider our legislature one of their easier targets.

There are websites that have more details of the legislative history of PAS in Hawaii:
PatientsRightsCouncil.org and ChoiceIllusion.org are two of them.

Points to consider:
In spite of an almost complete lack of administrative transparency in Oregon, where PAS is legal, reports of a variety of problems have leaked out. There have been some highly publicized instances where patients were denied treatment coverage by the Oregon Health Plan and were offered suicide drugs instead.

There will be unintended consequences and new victims if we legalize PAS. This was recognized by the New York Governor’s Task Force on PAS, still one of the most thorough public policy reviews of the issue. Their report,
When Death is Sought: Assisted Suicide from a Medical Perspective, is available on line.

Major studies show that changing public policy in this area could not adequately address the potential abuse problems.

Polls used by proponents that claim that 73% -75% favor PAS are unreliable and methodologically suspect. In fact, people have become increasingly concerned about the potential for abuse since the push for legalization began.

Doctor-assisted suicide emerges as the most controversial cultural issue in Gallup’s 2011 Values and Beliefs poll, with Americans divided 48% (morally wrong) vs. 45% (morally acceptable). The number of people favoring doctor-assisted suicide has fallen from a high of 53% in 2004 to a low of 45% in 2011. Individuals who are 55 and over are the least likely to favor doctor-assisted suicide.

The close division of opinion over PAS makes it is even more important for those who understand and appreciate the dangers of legalization to become involved.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elder Caregiver: We need Aloha, not “Death by Prescription”

From Hawaii Free Press 
Letters to the Editor, October 25, 2011 

Dear Editor, 

I am an experienced caregiver to elderly, disabled, and seriously/terminally ill patients.

Suicide activist and physician Robert Nathanson is preying on the very people who need us most. By participating in and instigating suicide among the vulnerable, Nathanson is committing acts that are illegal, unethical, and disgraceful to the medical profession. Physician assisted suicide constitutes the worst form of medical abandonment and is a recipe for abuse of the elderly, handicapped, and helpless. Read more

Not Dead Yet Applauds PBS Documentary "Lives Worth Living"

Not Dead Yet, a national disability organization that opposes legalization of assisted suicide, applauds the documentary “Lives Worth Living” which begins airing October 27 on PBS. Produced and directed by Eric Neudel, “Lives Worth Living” combines rare historical footage with interviews of individuals with disabilities who led the development of the disability rights movement. Read more

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mainland Suicide Activists Push Agenda on Hawaii

Hawaii Free Press 

Hawaii is under attack! Once again, suicide activists from the mainland are here to push their deadly agenda using smoke and mirrors. Read more

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pro-Assisted Suicide Advocates Falsely Advertise Suicide as Legal in Hawaii

Hawaii Free Press
October 21, 2011

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. Read more

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Compassion & Choices Embraces Derek Humphry

Just in from Washington State:

Compassion & Choices of Washington has announced that Derek Humphry will be the keynote speaker at its 2011 annual meeting.[1]

Derek Humphry has recently been in the news as a promoter of suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI.  According to an article in Oregon's Register-Guard newspaper:
"A spotlight was cast on the mail-order suicide kit business after a 29-year-old Eugene man committed suicide in December using a helium hood kit. The Register-Guard traced the $60 kit to [the company, which] has no website and does no advertising; clients find [the] address through the writings of Humphry."[2]
With the choice of Humphry as its keynote speaker, Compassion & Choices shows its true colors?

* * *
[1]  See current newsletter for Compassion & Choices of Washington, stating :  "Derek Humphry to be Keynote Speaker at 2011 Annual Meeting."  To view the newsletter, go to the following link and scroll down to the lower half of the page:  http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/derek.pdf
[2]  See e.g., Jack Moran, "Police kick in door in confusion over suicide kit:  The FBI message to police about the purchase of the gear failed to mention it was bought seven months ago, "  The Register-Guard, September 21, 2011.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Opps, they did it again! Mainland suicide law proponents back in Hawaii


BY KAREN DICOSTANZO - Oops, they did it again! Mainland suicide law proponents descended on Hawaii this week for a panel discussion hosted by Rep. Blake Oshiro and sponsored by Honolulu Star-Advertiser. As before, they used misinformation to bolster their claim that physician assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii.

Of course, this begs the question:
If physician assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii, why have suicide law proponents been trying--unsuccessfully--to legalize it for the past 10 years?The "panel" for the panel discussion consisted solely of suicide activists, so this was not a bona fide effort to air opinions from both sides and maintain balance. Rather, this was meant as a PR stunt to create a news story and arouse public interest in their cause.

Suicide law proponents are using a 1909 Hawaii law as a basis for their assertions, claiming the law allows doctors to administer lethal drugs upon patient request. In fact, this law was written to allow doctors to administer non-traditional/herbal drugs in battling such illnesses as Hansen's Disease (leprosy), tuberculousis, and asthma.

It is obvious that by grasping at straws such as this, their argument is indeed weak. Nevertheless, using equally weak arguments, physician assisted suicide was legalized in states like Oregon and Washington. We need to act now to counter these ridiculous claims and protect the public from these false reports.


http://www.hawaiireporter.com/oops-they-did-it-again-mainland-suicide-law-proponents-back-in-hawaii/123

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Assisted Suicide is Not "Already Legal"

By Margaret Dore 

Assisted suicide proponents have a new claim, that physician-assisted suicide, termed, "aid in dying," is already legal in Hawaii.  The claim, contained in a brief prepared by Kathryn Tucker, is based in part on a 1909 statute.[1]  The claim fails for the reasons set forth below.

A.  Hawaii's Manslaughter Statute Applies 

Tucker argues that Hawaii's manslaughter statute, providing that an individual commits manslaughter if "[t]he person intentionally causes another person to commit suicide," does not apply to "aid in dying" because aid in dying is not "suicide."[2]  Just last year, in Blick v. Connecticut, Tucker made a similar argument that was summarily rejected by the trial court.[3]  The trial judge stated:

"[T]he legislature intended the [manslaughter] statute to apply to physicians who assist a suicide . . ." [4]

B.  The 1909 Statute

Tucker's brief states:

"Hawaii law . . . contains a unique provision that gives physicians broad discretion when treating terminally ill patients: '[W]hen 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.'"[5]

She further states:  "Added in 1909, the purpose of this provision was to give terminally ill patients the option to obtain treatment that had not yet been approved by the government."[6]

C.  Bills Have Repeatedly Failed

In Hawaii, bills to enact physician-assisted suicide have repeatedly failed and/or been defeated in the Legislature since at least 2002.[7] This fact alone is sufficient to defeat Tucker's claim that the above statute has somehow already legalized assisted suicide.  Consider for example, Lawrence v. Lawrence, 105 Wn.App. 683, 687-8, 20 P.3d 972 (2001).  The Washington State Court of Appeals held that the "friendly parent concept" was not the law because bills to enact it had been rejected by the legislature.  In Hawaii, bills to enact physician-assisted suicide have repeatedly failed and/or been rejected in the legislature.  For this reason alone, physician-assisted suicide is not the law of Hawaii.

D.  False and "Malarky"

Tucker argues that "aid in dying" should emerge in Hawaii as a practice governed by a developing standard of care due to the influence of Oregon, Washington and Montana.[8]  This is similar to an argument she made last year in The Advocate, the official publication of the Idaho State Bar.[9]  She claimed that "aid in dying" was already legal in Idaho due to the law of Oregon, Washington and Montana.[10]  In The Advocate's next issue, a former Chief Justice and other lawyers denounced her reasoning as "false" and "malarkey."[11] 

E.  Matters Not Addressed

Tucker's brief does not address address language in the Hawaiian Pain Patient's Bill of Rights, which states:

"Nothing in this section shall be construed to: . . .  prohibit the discipline or prosecution of a licensed physician for: . . . Causing, or assisting in causing, the suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing of any individual  . . ."[12]

Her brief also fails to address Hawaii caselaw, which imposes a duty of care to prevent suicide on a defendant with actual custody of a suicidal person.[13]  In other words, civil damages can be imposed for failing to prevent a suicide in Hawaii.[14] 

* * *
Margaret Dore is President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposing assisted suicide and euthanasia.  She is also an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  For more information, see www.ChoiceIllusion.orgwww.margaretdore.com

* * *
[1]  See e.g. Kathryn Tucker, "End-of-life Law and Policy in Hawaii Aid in Dying," as of September 20, 2011, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/tucker-brief_0011.pdf 
[2]  Tucker, note 1 above, Section II.B. ("Criminal Prohibitions Governing End-of-Life Care").
[3]  http://www.choiceillusionconnecticut.org/p/connecticut-2.html, paragraph 3.
[4]  Id., paragraph 4.
[5]  Tucker, note 1 above, Section II.A. ("Hawaii Law Empowers Patients to Make Autonomous End-of-Life Treatment Decisions")
[6]  Id.
[7]  Tucker concedes that bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide have been proposed and failed since 2002.  See Tucker, note 1 above, second paragraph.  Just this year, Senate Bill 803 bill was voted down in Committee, 4 to 0.
[8]  Tucker, note 1 above, Sections titled:  "Aid in Dying Should be Governed by Standard of Care," "Aid in Dying in Other States" and "Conclusion:  Aid in Dying Can and Should Emerge as an End-of-Life Option in Hawaii as a Practice Governed by Standard of Care."
[9]  See Kathryn Tucker & Christine Salmi, "Aid in Dying: Law, Geography and Standard of Care in Idaho, 53 The Advocate, Official Publication of the Idaho State Bar, No. 8, 42-45 (2010).
[10]  Id.
[11]  Hon. Robert E. Bakes et al, Letters to the Editor, 53 The Advocate, Official Publication of the Idaho State Bar, No. 9, 15-17 (2010).
[12]  Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 327H-2.
[13]  See e.g., Schwenke v. Outrigger Hotels, 122 Hawai'i 389, 392 (2010).
[14]  Id.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to Hawaiians Against Assisted Suicide!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

For Third Time Hawaii Legislature Rejects Assisted Suicide

Today's News & Views
By Dave Andrusko 

Following 4½ hours of powerful testimony, Hawaii's Senate Health Committee turned down a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor's terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night," wrote reporter B.J. Reyes.Sen. Josh Green, the committee chairman, told the audience last night, "After considering the large body of testimony presented to us, I have determined that community sentiment here today has been overwhelmingly opposed to moving this measure forward in its present form."

The Emperor has No Clothes: "VSED"

Assisted suicide proponents have a new campaign promoting starvation and dehydration.  VSED: "Voluntarily" stopping eating and drinking.  Below, Kate Kelly provides a real life example:  "I watched her suffer." 

______________________________________________

Mild stroke led to mother's forced starvation

By Kate Kelly

I watched an old woman die of hunger and thirst.  She had Alzheimer's, this old woman, and was child-like, trusting, vulnerable, with a child's delight at treats of chocolate and ice cream, and a child's fear and frustration when tired or ill.

I watched her die for six days and nights.

I watched her suffer, and I listened to the medical practitioners, to a son who legally decided her fate, and to an eldest daughter who advised him and told me that the old woman, my mother, was "comfortable," except when she was "in distress," at which times the nurses medicated her to make her "comfortable" again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What People Mean When They Say They Want to Die

 (originally published as a Statement for the BBC)
For a print version, click here
by William Toffler, MD
__________________________________________

There has been a profound shift in attitude in my state since the voters of Oregon narrowly embraced assisted suicide 11 years ago.  A shift that, I believe, has been detrimental to our patients, degraded the quality of medical care, and compromised the integrity of my profession. 

Since assisted suicide has become an option, I have had at least a dozen patients discuss this option with me in my practice.  Most of the patients who have broached this issue weren't even terminal. 

One of my first encounters with this kind of request came from a patient with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.  He was in a wheelchair yet lived a very active life. In fact, he was a general contractor and quite productive.  While I was seeing him, I asked him about how it affected his life.  He acknowledged that multiple sclerosis was a major challenge and told me that if he got too much worse, he might want to “just end it.” “ It sounds like you are telling me this because you might ultimately want assistance with your own assisted suicide- if things got a worse,” I said.  He nodded affirmatively, and seemed relieved that I seemed to really understand.

I told him that I could readily understand his fear and his frustration and even his belief that assisted suicide might be a good option for him. At the same time, I told him that should he become sicker or weaker, I would work to give him the best care and support available. I told him that no matter how debilitated he might become, that, at least to me, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I would not recommend, nor could I participate in his assisted-suicide.  He simply said, "Thank you." The truth is that we are not islands.  How physicians respond to the patient’s request has a profound effect, not only on a patient's choices, but also on their view of themselves and their inherent worth.

Don't Follow Oregon's Lead


By Charles Bentz, MD, for print version, click here.

I am an internal medicine doctor, practicing in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. I write in support of Margaret Dore’s article, "Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice." I would also like to share a story about one of my patients.
I was caring for a 76 year-old man who came in with a sore on his arm. The sore was ultimately diagnosed as a malignant melanoma, and I referred him to two cancer specialists for evaluation and therapy. I had known this patient and his wife for over a decade. He was an avid hiker, a popular hobby here in Oregon. As he went through his therapy, he became less able to do this activity, becoming depressed, which was documented in his chart.

During this time, my patient expressed a wish for doctor-assisted suicide to one of the cancer specialists. Rather than taking the time and effort to address the question of depression, or ask me to talk with him as his primary care physician and as someone who knew him, the specialist called me and asked me to be the “second opinion” for his suicide. She told me that barbiturate overdoses “work very well” for patients like this, and that she had done this many times before.

I told her that assisted-suicide was not appropriate for this patient and that I did NOT concur. I was very concerned about my patient’s mental state, and I told her that addressing his underlying issues would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription. Unfortunately, my concerns were ignored, and approximately two weeks later my patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor. His death certificate, filled out by this doctor, listed the cause of death as melanoma.The public record is not accurate. My patient did not die from his cancer, but at the hands of a once-trusted colleague. This experience has affected me, my practice, and my understanding of what it means to be a physician.

"I was afraid to leave my husband alone"

Letter from Oregon resident, Kathryn Judson, Published in the Hawaii Free Press, February 15, 2011.  To view the original letter, click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.   

Dear Editor,

Hello from Oregon.

When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor's office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought).

To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. 'Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her' he said, as a clincher.

Now, if the doctor had wanted to say 'I don't see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have' that would have been one thing. If he'd wanted to opine that certain treatments weren't worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different.

I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less).

We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor's office, and encounters with a 'death with dignity' inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they'd morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them.

It's not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Judson, Oregon

"If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead"

I'm so glad doctor didn't assist me with thoughts of suicidehttp://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/oct/19/letter-im-so-glad-doctor-didnt... 

Letter, Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I disagree with Marshall Frank's column, "Florida ready for its own Death with Dignity Act, to give terminally ill patients a choice." Here in Oregon we have such a law. In other words, assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted via a ballot initiative that I voted for.

In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn't know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn't really answer me. I did not want to suffer. I wanted to die and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am so happy to be alive!
It is now nearly 10 years later. If my doctor had believed in
assisted suicide, I would be dead. I thank him and all my doctors for helping me choose "life with dignity." Assisted suicide should not be legal. Don't make Oregon's mistake.


Jeanette Hall
King City, Ore.