Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Assisted Suicide Not Lawful, State says

http://www.staradvertiser.com/s?action=login&f=y&id=137466873

A 103-year-old act does not let doctors kill, the attorney general's office tells proponents


By B.J. Reyes

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2012

An obscure 1909 law intended to ease suffering of Hansen's disease patients does not make physician-assisted suicide legal in Hawaii, according to an opinion by the state attorney general's office.

The opinion, dated Dec. 8, was in 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.
An obscure 1909 law intended to ease suffering of Hansen's disease patients does not make physician-assisted suicide legal in Hawaii, according to an opinion by the state attorney general's office.

The opinion, dated Dec. 8, was in 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. Login for more...

Monday, December 26, 2011

AG Rejects Claim That Assisted Suicide is "Already Legal"

By Margaret Dore, December 26, 2011

On December 8, 2011, the Hawaii Attorney General issued a formal opinion rejecting a claim by suicide proponents that assisted suicide is "already legal" due to a 1909 statute.  The opinion, requested by Hawaii State Senator Joshua Green, MD, has now been publicly released.   The opinion not only rejects the proponents' claim, but affirmatively states that a physician who assists a suicide "could be charged under Hawaii’s manslaughter statute. . . ."  The opinion states:

"Dear Senator Green:


Re: Hawaii law on assistance with dying

You have asked (1) whether [the 1909 statute,] §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.

In Hawaii, a doctor or other person who causes or fails to prevent a suicide can also be subjected to civil liability, generally in a custodial situation.   See e.g., Schwenke v. Outrigger Hotels, 122 Hawai'i 389, 392 (2010).

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."


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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

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

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

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.