Assisted Suicide Measure Passes Hawaii House Panel
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 5, 2004
HONOLULU, HAWAII--A "death with dignity" bill is making its way through the Hawaii Legislature, even though its passage is already in doubt, the Honolulu Advertiser reported Friday.
House Bill 862 would allow "mentally competent", terminally-ill patients to receive a lethal dose of medication for ending their own lives. Doctors would not administer the lethal dose, but would determine the patients' competency. Under the proposed law, patients would have to make both an oral and a written request to their physicians and would have to ask again at least 15 days after their initial oral request.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 10-5 to pass HB 862. It now advances to the full House for a vote.
Senate President Robert Bunda said the Senate would give the measure a fair shot, but added that it was hard to say whether it would pass.
Two years ago, the House passed a similar measure with a 30-20 vote, but senators voted 14-11 against it.
Current Governor Linda Lingle has spoken out against physician-assisted suicide, calling it a "slippery slope" that could lead to euthanasia.
"I oppose physician-assisted suicide because we should treat pain and suffering, not avoid it by killing the sufferer," registered nurse Jackie Mishler testified before the House panel. "That cheap and dirty fix will ultimately undermine real compassion, take away funding and interest in pain management, and create a host of new victims among the disabled, the underserved, and those who can't speak for themselves."
Disability rights groups have opposed attempts to legalize physician-assisted suicide because of the risk to people with certain disabilities whose lives are often considered 'not worth living', especially in a culture that values productivity, mobility, and independence. People with severe disabilities are also often made to believe that they are a burden upon others, and that dying would be the 'loving thing to do'.
Oregon is the only state that has a law allowing physician-assisted suicide. In the first week of January, Vermont lawmakers shelved a "death with dignity" measure, similar to Hawaii's bill, when state senators said they would not support it.
"Bill on assisted suicide advances" (Honolulu Advertiser)
Not Dead Yet