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.