The Society gathered on March 14, 2009, to meet with Eli Stutzman, JD, the Secretary of the Death With Dignity National Center to discuss the future of our legislation and of our organization. Stutsman is a practicing attorney in Portland, Oregon where he was one of the drafters of the Oregon and Washington State Death with Dignity laws. Stutsman and his counterpart at Compassion & Choices, Barbara Coombs Lee, PA, JD, led the political and legal strategy for the 1994 campaign to pass the Oregon law and again for the 1997 campaign to defeat a legislatively inspired repeal effort. DDNC and Compassion & Choices joined forces again to defend the Death with Dignity law in the first federal court challenge, Lee v. State of Oregon, spanning 1994 to 1997. Stutsman was on the legal team that prevailed against the U.S. Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration in the 2004 case of Oregon v. Ashcroft, heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A long-time friend and supporter, Eli Stutsman returned to Oahu on Wednesday April 14, 2010, to participate in a panel discussion with Vicar General and Diocesan Theologian of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Reverend Marc Alexander. The event was entitled In Search of Death With Dignity in Hawai‘i and was sponsored by the Elder Law Program of the William S. Richardson School of Law. Details Here.
The Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society (HDWDS) was organized in December of 200 when several veteran Hawai`i advocates began to sense the need for a hands-on local organizing and coordinating effort to continue to work towards passing a DWD bill at the Hawai`i State Legislature. This course was taken after many disruptive changes had taken place with two of the larger national organizations. The National Hemlock Society was absorbed by Compassion In Dying, with the surviving entity being called Compassion and Choices.
Scott Foster, Communications Director for the HDWDS said, “After our near success in 2002, we made a great mistake in allowing our local effort to be taken over and directed by large mainland organizations. When their power struggle took place, we were simply caught in the middle and why in 2004 we formed this organization; the Society.” See the detailed history of our organization Here.
We are a member of The World Federation of Right To Die Societies, The Final Exit Network & ERGO: Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization, and maintain a cordial relationship with Oregon’s Death With Dignity National Center