Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hawaii: Assisted Suicide is Not "Already Legal"

By Margaret Dore

Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, claims that physician-assisted suicide, which she terms "aid in dying," is already legal in Hawaii.[1]  Her claim, based in part on a 1909 statute, 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]