Media Archive

April 5, 2017
Island Voices
‘Cowards’ killed medical aid in dying
By Teresa Shook

Hawaii’s “Death With Dignity” Bill has been shelved. The bill would have allowed terminally ill people to have a choice to die without suffering. The title does not refer to the notion some people have that choosing to end life prior to its natural occurrence is the “coward’s way out.” The “cowards” are those who refused to support the bill. No matter which side of the fence our local politicians lean on, the “politics as usual” mentality will fail. The weight of the Resistance against entrenched systems that no longer serve the people will create a tipping point that breaks the stranglehold. Make no mistake — each and every political representative will be held accountable.

This bill asks nothing more than to allow those who are terminally ill to have control over their dying process. Who can argue against that? Some say their God thinks it’s a sin. But voters in Hawaii represent many beliefs and cultures. Passage of the bill would allow the option for those whose beliefs are not conflicted by such matters. Politics has no business basing decisions on religion — covertly or overtly.

Clearly those who failed to support the bill have never sat by the bed of a loved one with a terminal illness watching them slowly lose their identity to pain and suffering. The loved one wishes they could end the suffering their family endures — the family wishes they could end the suffering for their loved one. The memory of that event never fades. I know.

My younger sister, Brenda, contracted a virus that caused her to have cardial myopathy just before her 30th birthday. It was a fluke. A random event. She had the flu and then suddenly she was dying. There was no cure — unless a heart donor became available — which at that time (20 years ago) was rare. There was a long waiting list. They stabilized her at first but eventually she became so sick she had to be hospitalized in hopes that a donor would become available.

She became weak; it was difficult for her to talk. Her skin turned the color of bleached bones with the papery feel of parchment. She said she wanted to die. I was helpless to save her and helpless to grant her request. The days passed. They hooked her up to a respirator. They hooked her up to a heart machine that sucked the blood out and back in. The whoosh whoosh of the respirator — the suck, suck of the heart machine — will never leave me. They pumped her full of steroids. Her body ballooned up like a blowfish. Her organs started failing. Whoosh, whoosh. Suck, suck. My father punched a hole in the hospital wall. My mother disappeared inside herself, never to return.

Eventually from my shell-shocked place I asked the doctors “could she survive a transplant if a heart donor became available?” “No,” said the anonymous white coats floating all around our periphery.

She had signed a declaration of “no artificial means of support.” We unhooked her from the machines to end her suffering. By then my beautiful, crazy, full-of-life sister was an unrecognizable blob of dehumanized flesh. She died within minutes of “unhooking” her. She should have been allowed the choice of “death with dignity.”

Each politician who fails to support this bill should sit by a dying person and say, “I voted against the ‘death with dignity’ bill. I think you and your family should suffer.”

Because that is what your failure to act will cause.

Teresa Shook, of Maui, is founder of the Women’s March Washington.

Original story behind pay wall HERE

 

Thursday April 6, 2017

Most Hawaii House Members Won’t Say Where They Stand On Aid In Dying
The House Health Committee’s deferral of the bill let other members off the hook on making their position on the issue known to the public.
By Nathan Eagle & Natanya Friedheim

When it comes to one of the most high-profile issues before the Legislature — medical aid in dying — most House members are remaining silent about their position. Civil Beat called all 51 members to find out where they stood on a bill to let doctors prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients after the Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Della Au Belatti, shelved it last month without a vote. The Senate had passed it two weeks earlier, 22-3. More than 30 representatives did not return messages seeking information about whether they support or oppose aid-in-dying legislation. Read the entire story with many photos HERE.

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March 25, 2017
Abercrombie slams House for shelving death bill
By Sophie Cocke
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie said House members were dodging their responsibilities as elected representatives and trying to skirt controversy by stopping a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain prescriptions for lethal doses of medication in committee before it could go to a full vote on the House floor.

Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie is blasting a House committee for shelving a high-profile bill that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain prescriptions for lethal doses of medication and says lawmakers should resurrect the measure through a rarely used clause in the state Constitution that would allow for a full floor vote on the bill.

On Thursday, House Health Committee Chairwoman Della Au Belatti (D, Moiliili-Makiki-Tantalus) recommended at the end of a three-hour hearing that Senate Bill 1129 be deferred, a decision that the other six members of her committee signaled they supported. A decision to defer a bill is meant to kill the measure for the year.

“When I saw that this was deferred, I thought, how do you defer something like this? You can’t defer death. It comes to every single one of us,” Abercrombie said Friday in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “It’s not a resolution on Mother’s Day or National Dental Week.”

Abercrombie said House members were dodging their responsibilities as elected representatives and trying to skirt controversy by stopping the bill in committee before it could go to a full vote on the House floor.

The bill was a top priority of the Hawaii Democratic Party and passed the full Senate by a 22-3 vote earlier this month. Both the House speaker and Senate president signaled their support of the measure at the beginning of this year’s legislative session, and several past governors, including Abercrombie, had come out publicly in support of the bill.

“In the state Legislature, at a minimum then, it is incumbent upon the Democratic Party representatives to vote on major issues. To run away from it — then why are you in the Legislature? What are you there for?” he said.

“To simply say there is division on an issue, let’s run away — no wonder people get disgusted with politics,” he continued.

Abercrombie suggested that the issue of physician-assisted death was on par with such weighty issues as gay marriage and abortion and should be given the same attention. He said he wasn’t asking legislators to do something he hadn’t done, noting the special session he called on same-sex marriage, which resulted in the passage of Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act.

“I called a special session precisely because I realized there would not be a vote if I did not do it,” he said. “Believe me, I sat in the governor’s conference room listening to many legislators saying, ‘Please don’t do this,’ some of them very candidly saying, ‘We don’t want to take a vote, we don’t want to put ourselves on the line.’”

Supporters of SB 1129 have argued that terminally ill patients should have the right to decide how and when to die when they feel their suffering has become unbearable. The bill, which was modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, enacted in 1997, would apply to residents who have been diagnosed as having six months or less to live.

But members of the Health Committee on Thursday raised a host of concerns about the bill, such as whether there were adequate safeguards in place to protect seniors or the ill from being pressured or tricked into taking such medication. Health Committee members also questioned experts about whether doctors could accurately predict when someone had just six months left to live and raised concerns about misdiagnosis of illnesses.

Belatti said she was not aware of any effort to recall the bill from her committee for a floor vote, an act she said would be “extraordinary.”

“It’s not incidental reasons why the bill was deferred,” she said. “There were some very good questions.”

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said that to recall the bill, one-third of the House, or 17 members, would have to vote in favor — a motion that couldn’t happen until after Wednesday, which would mark 20 days from the date the bill was referred to the Health Committee.

But he said he wouldn’t be in favor of such a motion.

“It was heard, it was considered and the decision was to defer it,” he said. “I respect the decision of the committee.”

As to Abercrombie’s comments, Saiki said, “I would say that I really don’t need his advice on how to manage legislation at the Legislature.”

House Speaker Joe Souki declined to comment for this story.

NOTE: Read original story on line HERE

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Navigating The Journey is a live weekly broadcast with host Marsha Joyner that explores the options and choices of end-of-life issues from religious, cultural, medical and legal perspectives. The shows are archived for later viewing on Youtube HERE.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017
Editorial| On Politics
If Souki’s tallies are right, medically-assisted-death bill has fighting chance to survive
By Richard Borreca

House Speaker Joe Souki is tallying up the votes for SB 1129, which would allow a terminally ill person to get a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life. It will be a close vote, writes Richard Borreca. Legislators will get little political benefit, but the public benefit of voting for compassion and empathy is immense.

House Speaker Joe Souki is tallying up the votes for SB 1129, which would allow a terminally ill person to get a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life. It will be a close vote, writes Richard Borreca. Legislators will get little political benefit, but the public benefit of voting for compassion and empathy is immense.

One of the Legislature’s most canny and astute members, House Speaker Joe Souki, pulls a pile of House roll call sheets from his desk drawer.

“This is my bible,” he says with a smile.

The sheets are his own projections on how his members will vote on his important bills.

Parsing how his 44 House Democrats will vote is both higher mathematics and an art form for Souki.

Right now he is tallying up the votes for Senate Bill 1129, which would allow a terminally ill person to get a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

Souki voted for a similar bill when it passed the House in 2002 and now he is doing all he can to have the bill become law.

“This has to do with compassion. Pain is not a birthright,” Souki said in an interview.

“They should be given the right to do what we think is right. A number of churches don’t think it is bad to help a person in their eternal journey.”

Fifteen years ago, an assisted suicide bill cleared the House and then was bottled up in the Senate, only to be defeated with 14 “no” votes.

Then-Gov. Ben Cayetano had assembled a special study group to recommend a bill. The committee took two years to offer up its recommendations and it formed the basis for the push.

Hawaii church groups, mostly led by the Catholic Church, opposed the bill and had a skilled lobbyist working in opposition.

Now supporters of the bill have no major institutional supporter. If you support assisted suicide, no one has your back; you are voting on your own.

But remarkably, the effort has become the key issue for one of the state’s most powerful lobbyists, John Radcliffe, who has been diagnosed with stage four colon and liver cancer.

“On the outside I should have died by July of 2016, and here it is February of 2017. So far, so good,” Radcliffe said in testimony.

With what time he has, Radcliffe is launching his most passionate lobbying campaign. He was Souki’s guest of honor when the House opened its first session in January and he was also the Senate Health Committee chairwoman’s guest of honor in the Senate. So top legislators were sending a strong signal of their support for the bill.

“This is just one more small advance for the remarkable Catholic philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote that ‘Mercy is the compassion of our heart when considering the misery of another person,’” Radcliffe, a Catholic, said in an interview. “It was Aquinas’ view that Man’s justice was never complete without God’s mercy, and that God’s mercy perfects Man’s law.”

Radcliffe is predicting victory, saying, “This is an organic national movement.”

Souki, however, is more cautious. He is also Catholic and knows the power held when Hawaii’s Bishop Larry Silva appears in a front-page Hawaii Catholic Herald piece urging Hawaii parishioners to “pray fervently that physician-assisted suicide will not be permitted in our state.”

Still Souki goes back to his vote tally bible and ticks off every possible Democratic vote against the bill that needs 26 votes to pass.

“We have 44 members — 30 up but even this … it could go down to 28,” he predicted.

It will be a close vote. Legislators will get little political benefit, but the public benefit of voting for compassion and empathy is immense.

Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays. Reach him at 808onpolitics@gmail.com.

Read original story HERE

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February 15, 2017
Medical Aid In Dying Bill Stays Alive In Hawaii Senate
The proposal, which didn’t even receive a hearing last year, has cleared one committee and its prospects seem good in a second.
By Natanya Friedheim

Death With Dignity Hawaii staffmember Marsha Joyner awaits the Senate Health Committee hearing.

“‘I’ve always thought this was a choice I wanted for myself,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-Maui, the committee’s chairwoman. “I’ve seen too many of my friends with advanced stages in cancer waste away when they really wanted to be able to have that final control. I think choice in all areas is very, very important.’ House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, D-Oahu, says it has a 50-50 chance of passing in his chamber.’”

HONOLULU – Proposals for medical aid in dying didn’t even get a hearing in the Hawaii Legislature last year, but times have changed. Senate Bill 1129 would allow licensed physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill, competent adults who have a prognosis of six or fewer months to live. It was passed unanimously Wednesday by the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Heath. More HERE 

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February 15, 2017

Hawaii bill would allow medical aid in dying

‘The power to choose’: After impassioned testimony, ‘death with dignity’ bill advances in Senate. To become law, Senate Bill 1129 still must pass the full Senate and House and be signed by Gov. David Ige. It has overwhelming Senate support.

Joe Herzog, who has stage four prostate cancer, tells his story to lawmakers today in Honolulu. Herzog is supporting a bill to allow adults who have a terminal illness to get a prescription for medication to end their lives. 

As a stage-four prostate cancer patient, Joe Herzog has been considering how he might die and knows he could face intractable vomiting and starvation in the final days or weeks of his life. As a retired veterinarian, Herzog believes he should have the same right that pet owners have to enable their feline and canine companions to die peacefully at home with medication. More HERE.

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A better choice
February 1, 2017
By Richard Creagan M.D.
My Turn

The people of Hawaii have been asking for a medical aid in dying option (also known as “death with dignity”) for almost 20 years. Today, 80 percent of Hawaii residents believe medical aid in dying should be an option in our state. Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable individual who has a prognosis of six months or less to live requests, obtains and — if his or her suffering becomes unbearable — self-administers medication that brings about a peaceful death. More HERE

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January 25, 2017

Longtime lobbyist John Radcliffe, 74, terminally ill with Cancer, is working to change Hawaii’s laws that prohibit access to life-ending medication when suffering becomes unbearable. Read the complete Midweek article HERE 

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January 23, 2017

Editorial

Let The Terminally Ill Exercise Personal Freedom
Hawaii has been grappling with this issue for 20 years. It’s time to lay it to rest.
By Civil Beat Editorial Board

Nothing gets people more hyped up than when the state’s role either allowing or forbidding a deeply personal and morally ambiguous freedom comes into question. This legislative session, the issue of “medical aid in dying” — when a doctor is allowed to prescribe life-ending medication to a terminally ill patient — promises to do just that. The issue has already proven itself to be polarizing and the debate about it is often heated, personal and annoyingly self-righteous. More HERE

 

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January 19, 2017
Prayers, music kick off new legislative session
By Kevin Dayton and Sophie Cocke

“In opening remarks, [House Speaker Joe] Souki also urged his colleagues to approve a “death with dignity” measure, although he recently acknowledged in an interview it may take more than one year to convince the 76-member Legislature to approve the idea. Souki, 83, promised to introduce his own bill for what some describe as “compassionate choices” in dying, meaning establishing a way to provide legal medical aid in dying for people who are terminally ill and mentally capable. John Radcliffe, a longtime lobbyist who is advocating for a death-with-dignity proposal, sat in the front row on the floor of the state House and applauded when Souki spoke of the bill. Radcliffe suffers from liver cancer and is a longtime friend of Souki.” More (behind pay wall) HERE

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January 18, 2017
Maui’s Souki takes gavel for 12th time as House speaker
Hospital transfer, right to die, crowded roads and prisons all part of address

“His [House Speaker Joe Souki]] call for discussion on the issue of allowing compassionate care or the right to die with dignity appeared to be more personal. Souki said that his longtime friend, lobbyist John Radcliffe, was sitting in the well of the House as he gave his address; Radcliffe has inoperable colon cancer and is terminally ill. I don’t know how long the good lord is going to keep him in this world,” Souki said Wednesday afternoon, adding that Radcliffe has called for a right to die measure. “I have a lot of people who call who want that,” he continued. “I am doing that for them because they are close to me. I am doing this for society as a whole.” Souki told his fellow House members that “those who are suffering from a terminal illness and are of sound mind should be given the opportunity to decide how they will end their own lives.” The speaker added that the measure also would relieve doctors of the risk of criminal charges and loss of license. Souki, 83, said he would like the option for himself. “I am not sure I will have the courage to make the decision when it comes,” he said. “Who knows if at the end I have an illness that is terribly painful.” Read the complete article (no pay wall) HERE.

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January 13, 2017
Death And Taxes: Two Certainties For This Year’s Hawaii Legislature
By Chad Blair

Can a longtime lobbyist sick with cancer persuade the Hawaii Legislature to pass medical aid in dying legislation? If anyone can do it, it might be John Radcliffe. He has represented clients with interests as varied as gambling, genetically modified foods and vacation rentals. After decades in island politics, Radcliffe has a lot of friends in the big square building on Beretania Street. Now terminally ill, he wants patients like him to have a say in end-of-life decisions. While the proposal has failed several times before, primarily because of the opposition of religious organizations and some medical groups, six states including California now permit an end-of-life medical care option. More HERE

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Thursday, January 12th 2017

 

Dying Cancer patient John Radcliffe has filed lawsuit

Aid in dying movement files suit to push for change to Hawaii law
By Shawn Ching, News Anchor / Reporter

A group advocating for the passage of medical “aid in dying” bill is also turning to the courts to see that Hawaii law allows terminally ill patients to end their own lives. The group, Compassion and Choices Hawaii, along with terminally ill cancer patient John Radcliffe and his doctor have filed a lawsuit against the state and the city prosecutor on the issue. The lawsuit hopes to have the court clarify that medical aid in dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is not a crime under Hawaii law. Complete video and text HERE

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Thursday, January 12th 2017

Should people be allowed to end their own lives? A Hawaii lobbyist with Terminal Cancer wants to make that choice with the help of a physician. As KITV’s Nicole Carvalho reports, the decision to do that is now up to lawmakers. See video story HERE

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January 12, 2017

Dying Cancer Patient Leads Suit Asserting Hawaii Law Allows Medical Aid in Dying

Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing and Compassion & Choices filed suit on Wednesday on behalf of a Hawaii resident with terminal cancer, John Radcliffe, and a physician asserting the Hawaii constitution and existing state law allow the practice of medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to peacefully end an unbearable dying process peacefully. Read more HERE

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December 29, 2017

 

Listen up legislators: It’s time to quit forcing unnecessary suffering and expense on terminally ill people who want a different option.
By Kathleen Kozak

In a recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, 76.5 percent of Hawaii residents surveyed support physician-assisted death. This year in the Legislature, incoming Sen. Karl Rhoads plans to propose a bill to legalize this action and join six other states (California, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont and New Mexico) that already allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the express purpose of allowing patients to end their lives. Seventy-six percent of Hawaii residents — this seems like a much different story than in 2002, the closest the measure ever came to passing in the islands when it failed by only three votes. Now, four former governors have petitioned publicly to have this bill passed. Learn more HERE

 

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khnl

Wednesday, December 14th 2016
Lawmakers to take up ‘death with dignity’ bill in new year
By Jim Mendoza, Reporter

View the video story HERE 

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December 14, 2016
Navigating the Journey
Death with Dignity Society – End of Life Advocacy with Scott Foster

Navigating the Journey is dedicated to assisting people talk about their wishes and options for end-of-life. Scott Foster, co-founder and Communications Director of the Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society joins Marsha Rose Joyner to discuss his work expanding options at the Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society.

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thinktechlogolarge

Navigating the Journey
View archived shows HERE

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StarAdvertiserMAST

December 15, 2016

A letter signed by former Hawai`i Governors George Ariyoshi (1974-1986), John Waihee (1987-1994), Benjamin Cayetano (1995-2002) and Neil Abercrombie (2010-2014) urging the Hawai`i State Legislature to hear and pass an“End of Life Options Act” in 2017 was published in the Island Voices section of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on December 15, 2016. Read the letter HERE.

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StarAdvertiserMAST

May 21, 2016
Death with dignity advocate seeks right to choose
By Pat Gee

SFheadshotHSA

SCOTT FOSTER Co-Founder, Hawaii Death With Dignity Society “I’ve witnessed so many older people whose quality of life goes to nothing, especially in those last months.”

For Scott Foster, getting a law passed in Hawaii to allow terminally ill people to end their lives is a personal matter. The 73-year-old co-founder of the Hawaii Death With Dignity Society has been working to attain such a law for 30 years. “I’m aging and it’s a very real issue. … When I can no longer take care of myself, it becomes a quality-of-life issue,” Foster said, adding that with no relatives and few close friends, he wonders who would be able to care for him. “I want full control over my end of life as best I can.” Foster, the recently elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Kupuna Caucus, ran on a platform of senior health care and end-of-life issues, including a proposed “death with dignity” law that would allow a doctor to write a prescription for a lethal drug. More HERE.

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StarAdvertiserMAST
May 21, 2016

End-of-life talks with family are key
By Pat Gee

HSA_Hands

Start talking to relatives about how they want to die before they become critically ill. That’s Jade Young’s strongly held take on the matter. As a hospice educator and chaplain who has witnessed many families, including her own, struggle with end-of-life decisions during a time of anguish, Young advises, “An advance health care directive is a must, must, must.” Young was among the panelists at an event titled “End-of-Life Options and Dying With Dignity: Next Steps,” which was moderated by Mary Steiner of Compassion & Choices Hawaii. About 60 people attended the monthly Open Table discussion Tuesday, hosted by The Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. More HERE

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May 16, 2016

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HAWAII ACTIVATING ON DEATH WITH DIGNITY ISSUE
Our Co-Founder Scott Foster Elected Chair of the Party’s Powerful Kupuna Caucus

Newly elected Vice-Chair, Helen Raeur and Chair, Scott Foster of the Democratic Party of Hawaii's Kupuna Caucus.

Newly elected Vice-Chair, Helen Raeur and Chair, Scott Foster of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Kupuna Caucus.

Running on a platform of senior healthcare and end-of-life issues including Death With Dignity, the Hawaii Death With Dignity Society’s co-founder and Communications Director Scott Foster has been elected Chair of the powerful Democratic Party of Hawaii’s Kupuna Caucus. The organization represents many thousands of senior Democrats and their families across the state.

Foster said, “When the original Hawaii Death With Dignity Society members first set out to educate the public in Hawaii about this once very controversial public policy issue, we might have never imagined that we would still be working on it over 25-years later! But laying that early groundwork has finally paid off and we strongly believe that 2017 is the year Hawaii will join Oregon, Washington State, Montana, Vermont and California in having a Death With Dignity law in place. We welcome all who have joined with us to see this happen and we salute and honor those who have come before.” Learn about some of those amazing personalities HERE.

It should also be noted that the Democratic Party of Hawaii (DPH) has added a new supportive resolution to the DPH Platform. Drafted and lobbied by our Scott Foster, on April 23, 2016, the Oahu County Democratic Convention adopted the following Resolution OC2016-8, “On Death with Dignity” and was passed and adopted during the DPH State Convention on May 28-29 at Honolulu’s Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki. Scott is an elected Delegate and worked very hard to see that the resolution in the Platform.

Resolution OC2016-8, “On Death with Dignity”

WHEREAS, Hawaii has long affirmed the rights of individuals to make informed decisions regarding their health care at the end of life; and
WHEREAS, The Democratic Party of Hawaii has, through duly-adopted prior platform planks, established a long history of support for and the endorsement of Death with Dignity for terminally ill patients at the end of life; now therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Oahu County Democrats of the Democratic Party of Hawaii urge the Legislature to take all measures to affirm the right of dying patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare, ensure that Hawaii residents are provided with a full range of end of life options, including a decision to advance the time of death, and provide safeguards to ensure patients are in control if they choose Death with Dignity; and be it
ORDERED that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Democratic members of the Hawai‘i State Legislature, the members of the Hawai‘i Congressional delegation, and the 2016 convention Resolutions Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.

Maker: Scott Foster
Second: Michael Deweert & Mary Guinger

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thinktechlogolarge

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  July 2, 2013

StarAdvertiserMAST
Former Democratic lawmaker made civil rights his life’s work
By B.J. Reyes

“Scott Foster, a family friend and also an advocate for physician-assisted suicide, described Heen as one of the great characters of Hawaii politics. Just a bigger-than-life gentleman of the old school,” Foster said. “He enthralled me with first-person accounts of historical events that most of us just read as old, stale historical notes. The you-are-there-in-the-room perspective explains some of the nuance of what’s made Hawaii what it is today — good, bad or indifferent.” Read the complete article HERE

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October 5, 2011
MEDIA ADVISORY
CAN HAWAII PHYSICIANS ALREADY PROVIDE DEATH WITH DIGNITY?
EXPERT PANEL TO DISCUSS

HONOLULU – Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, and the Hawai’i Death With Dignity Society (HDWDS), a local organization with concurrent goals, today announced an October 5, 2011, panel discussion on aid in dying by a group of experts on Hawaiian law, medicine, elder care, legislative and end-of-life issues. The panel will consider whether Hawaii physicians may provide aid in dying subject to professional scope of practice. A careful review of Hawaii’s existing statutes suggests physicians may already be able to provide such interventions without fear of criminal sanction. More HERE

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AUGUST 11, 2011

NPR

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
Discworld’s Terry Pratchett On Death And Deciding

If you’ve read the Discworld novels by popular fantasy writer Terry Pratchett, you’ve surely encountered Death. He’s an actual character — a skeleton in a black hood who’s portrayed as not such a bad guy after all. So maybe it’s not so surprising that at 63, Pratchett — who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s — speaks openly about causing his own death. Hear the NPR interview HERE

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JULY 18, 2011

SeattleTimes

Facing death, confronting national bankruptcy

BY DAVID BROOKS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

This fiscal crisis is about many things, but it’s largely driven by health-care costs, writes David Brooks. A key factor is our inability to face death — our willingness to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more sickly months. I hope you had the chance to read and reread Dudley Clendinen’s splendid essay, “The Good Short Life,” in The New York Times’ Sunday Review section [article follows]. Clendinen is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. If he uses all the available medical technology, it will leave him, in a few years’ time, “a conscious but motionless, mute, withered, incontinent mummy of my former self.” MORE

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NYTmasthead

July 9, 2011

OPINION

The Good Short Life

By DUDLEY CLENDINEN

“I think it’s important to say that. We obsess in this country about how to eat and dress and drink, about finding a job and a mate. About having sex and children. About how to live. But we don’t talk about how to die. We act as if facing death weren’t one of life’s greatest, most absorbing thrills and challenges. Believe me, it is. This is not dull. But we have to be able to see doctors and machines, medical and insurance systems, family and friends and religions as informative — not governing — in order to be free.” MORE

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StarAdvertiserMAST

FEBRUARY 13, 2011

DEATH WITH DIGNITY ISSUE DESERVES MORE, AND BETTER, DEBATE
BY SCOTT FOSTER

I embraced the Death With Dignity (DwD) issue 20-plus years ago via close friends on the forefront of the movement, including the late A.Q. McElrath. By the time I was 45, I had buried all of my family and the majority of my closest friends (AIDS). Watching so many long, painful debilitating deaths, I knew, when my time came, I wanted the option to terminate my life in a gentle manner should circumstances dictate. MORE

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February 13, 2011

A Matter of Life and Death

By Lee Catterall

A bill aimed at legalizing physician-assisted suicide has been shelved by the state Legislature, but the issue remains alive.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Living with Dignity, convened in 1996 by then-Gov. Ben Cayetano, proposed the bill in 1998. Some members of that panel have discussed reconvening to address the issue, including assessment of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which went into effect only a few months before the panel completed its work. MORE

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khon

February 7, 2011

Doctor-assisted suicide is back before the legislature again for the first time in years

by Gina Mangieri

Supporters say they count on a new liberal administration to back it. Those against say not that much has changed over the years in what they call broad community opposition. Physician-assisted suicide has come up in legislative sessions every so often since the late 90’s and is back for its first hearing in years.

“This bill puts in some more safety measures than in the past. I think that the grander philosophical questions remain debatable though,” said Senator Josh Green … MORE TEXT WITH VIDEO

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February 8, 2011

Hawaii Legislature scuttles assisted suicide

By Mark Niesse

HONOLULU (AP) – A Hawaii legislative panel on Monday unanimously voted down a bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, ending the possibility that it would become law this year. MORE

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February 07, 2011

Assisted suicide bill stalls

Supporters say they count on a new liberal administration to back it. Those against say not that much has changed over the years in what they call broad community opposition. Physician-assisted suicide has come up in legislative sessions every so often since the late 90’s and is back for its first hearing in years.

“This bill puts in some more safety measures than in the past. I think that the grander philosophical questions remain debatable though,” said Senator Josh Green. MORE TEXT WITH VIDEO HERE

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February 8, 2011

Hawaii Legislature scuttles assisted suicide

By Mark Niesse

HONOLULU (AP) – A Hawaii legislative panel on Monday unanimously voted down a bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, ending the possibility that it would become law this year. MORE

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February 07, 2011

Assisted suicide bill stalls

Emotional testimony fills a hearing on voluntary end of life

By B.J. Reyes

After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor’s terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night. The Senate Health Committee heard more than 4 1/2 hours of often-emotional public testimony before voting 4-0 to hold the bill in committee. MORE

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Sunday 3 October 2010

Doctors and nurses launch campaign for right to help terminally ill to end their lives

New group will challenge medical bodies such as the BMA that oppose any change in the law on assisted suicide

LONDON — Leading doctors who endorse assisted dying for the terminally ill will this week launch an unprecedented campaign to change the law on the right to die. Healthcare Professionals for Change, a group of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, says it wants to challenge bodies such as the British Medical Association, which opposes any change in the law that would allow others to help terminally ill people to die. The group is the first professional body of its kind to be set up with the explicit aim of changing the 1961 Suicide Act, which forbids such assistance. MORE

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khnl

Dec 14, 2009
Husband’s suicide resurrects right to die debate
By Tim Sakahara

KAILUA, HAWAI`I – Days after allegedly shooting his dying wife, in an attempt to put her out of her misery the medical examiner confirms Robert Yagi has taken his own life. Police are tight-lipped tonight on why Yagi, who was apparently suicidal, was allowed to post bail Friday and go home. View video story and transcript HERE

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kitv

Dec 14, 2009

Husband Ends His Life After Attempting to Take His Wife’s

Robert Yagi killed himself in his home after attempting to kill his ailing wife in the hospital. KITV News Video Here

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khon

Dec 14, 2009

Kailua Case Ignites Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate

Reported by Ron Mizutani

The Honolulu Medical Examiner confirmed Monday the man who tried to kill his terminally ill wife in her hospital bed last week has committed suicide. 71-year-old Robert Yagi was found dead Sunday in his Olomana home. Autopsy results show Yagi died from asphyxiation due to hanging. Yagi was free on bail after being charged with second-degree attempted murder, for shooting his wife with a flare gun last Tuesday night at Castle Medical Center. MORE

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logo

August 6, 2007

Assisted suicide attacked from an unlikely front

Disability rights groups, typically supportive of individual liberty, have helped defeat bills out of fear that HMOs would see a chance to cut care.

By James Ricci

Times Staff Writer

Five times in the last dozen years, bills on medically assisted suicide have risen in the California Assembly, and five times they have failed. In every instance, a great deal of the credit for their demise goes to a constituency associated with advancing personal choice and civil rights — namely, the disability rights movement. MORE

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ariWednesday, May 30, 2007

The Right to Assisted Suicide

By Thomas Bowden

Here’s a quiz: During the eight years Dr. Jack Kevorkian languished in a Michigan prison, how many state legislatures reformed their laws against physician-assisted suicide? Answer: none. Oregon remains the only state to have provided clear procedures by which doctors can end their dying patients’ pain and suffering while protecting themselves from criminal prosecution. MORE

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logoApril 5, 2007

EDITORIAL

Allow assisted suicide

California’s lawmakers should pass a bill to give the terminally ill control over their lives

FOR THE THIRD YEAR straight, a bill to grant terminally ill patients control of their final days by giving them access to lethal drugs is wending its way through the Legislature. For the third year straight, opponents have weighed in on moral and religious grounds, branding assisted suicide part of a destructive culture of death. There is little that can be said to alleviate religious objections to a person being the author of his or her own death. Little, that is, except that giving people the power to end their lives does not impinge on those who would reject that power for themselves. MORE

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HSB_MastheadMarch 18, 2007

When Hawaii’s legislature narrowly rejected a proposal patterned after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act five years ago, opponents warned that it would lead patients to feel obliged to die and would cause a decline in the quality end of life care. Since then, Governor Linda Lingle has opposed the measures as a “slippery slope” that would lead to numerous acts of euthanasia.

The latest data from Oregon reveals that those fears have not come about. In the decade since the law went into effect, fewer than 300 patients have chosen to end their lives by taking doctor-prescribed drugs — about one in a thousand of those diagnosed with terminal illness in that state.

Meanwhile, Oregon ranks among the nations’ best states in end of life care, as the law has raised awareness about care for the terminally ill. Physician-assisted suicide in Hawai`i was set aside last month by a house committee, and a similar bill died in the senate. Meanwhile, the issue is being debated in California, Arizona, Vermont and Washington.

NOTE: This was a lead in to the excellent article, Oregon takes stock of ‘right to die’ law, originally published in the March 12, 2007, Christian Science Monitor. Read it HERE

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washpostJanuary 22, 2006

Assisted-Suicide Ruling May Affect Painkiller Cases

By Marc Kaufman

Doctors who specialize in pain management and their advocates are hoping that last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding Oregon’s assisted-suicide law will boost their efforts to defend colleagues accused by the government of illegally prescribing narcotic painkillers to their patients. MORE

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2006 Supreme Court Decision Settled The State’s Rights Argument

In January of 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court again upheld the Oregon Death With Dignity law. Scott Foster, Director of Communications for the Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society said, This states’ rights decision at long last settles the matter once and for all. It is past time for theHawai`i State Legislature to act. We came within two votes of passing this law in 2000, it was killed because of religious bias and specious ‘slippery slope’ arguments, and the bill has only received two token public hearings since. There is no room in our democratic form of government for such religious bias in the legislative process.”

Every poll taken in Hawai`i in the past 10 years has demonstrated overwhelming public support regardless of political affiliation. In 2004, registered voters in Hawaii supported our proposed Death with Dignity legislation by an overwhelming 71%! Read the complete poll and research underlying data Here.

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NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

March 7, 2005

Assisted-Suicide Volunteer Asks: “Why Am I Not Dead?”

By Don Colburn

PORTLAND, OREGON – An Oregon man’s attempt at doctor-assisted suicide last month took a bizarre turn. MORE

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bloombergFebruary 22, 2005

Oregon Assisted-Suicide Law to Get U.S. Supreme Court Scrutiny

by Greg Stohr

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a Bush administration bid to block Oregon’s first-in-the- nation law. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1March 15, 2004

EDITORIAL

Suicide bill: Weary of the post-mortems

As a death-with-dignity bill was shelved again this year, some Hawai’i lawmakers offered the excuse that physician-assisted suicide is an uncomfortable issue to take up in an election year. Heck, it’s an uncomfortable issue to take up in any year. But it has to be resolved for the sake of those terminally ill and aging Islanders who want to know whether they’ll ever have the power to end unbearable suffering. If not in Hawai’i, they may want to make other arrangements – like move to Oregon. Oregon’s assisted-suicide law allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request a lethal dose of drugs after two doctors confirm the diagnosis and judge the patient mentally competent to make the request. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1 March 10, 2004

‘Death with dignity’ bill shelved

By Gordon Y.K. Pang and Lynda Arakawa

With election season coming, the House of Representatives rejected the controversial “death with dignity” measure that would have allowed terminally ill adults to get lethal doses of medication that would end their lives. The House Democrats sent the measure back to the Judiciary Committee.

House Judiciary Vice Chairman Blake Oshiro, D-33rd (Halawa, ‘Aiea, Pearlridge), among the main proponents, said the House members were divided and the Democrats believed it would be better to raise the issue again later, but not this session.

“People were a little uncomfortable about taking this up in an election year,” he said. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

March 10, 2004
OPINION
VOLCANIC ASH
Raw issue handled with dignity
By David Shapiro

The Legislature’s handling of “death-with-dignity” bills in the past three years has been defined by the dignity with which lawmakers have addressed this emotional issue. The debate has been mostly high-minded and respectful as legislators consider whether terminally ill patients should have the right to physician assistance if they choose to end lives that have lost all quality to intolerable pain or disability. Two years ago, the House voted to allow patients within six months of death to request lethal prescriptions under strict limitations, but the measure fell two votes short in the Senate. MORE

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HSB_Masthead

March 8, 2004

EDITORIAL

Terminally ill deserve the right to choice in dying

THE ISSUE The House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would allow physicians to assist terminally ill patients wishing to end their lives.

SIX years have passed since a blue-ribbon panel appointed by then-Gov. Ben Cayetano recommended that physician-assisted death of terminally ill patients be permitted in Hawaii. The state House approved the measure two years ago but the Senate defeated it by two votes. The Legislature is considering the proposal in the current session and should not delay its enactment yet another year. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1 March 5, 2004

Bill on assisted suicide advances

By Lynda Arakawa

A controversial bill allowing terminally ill patients to obtain a lethal prescription to end their lives passed the House Judiciary Committee yesterday and is headed for a full House vote. The committee voted 10-5 to advance House Bill 862 after more than four hours of testimony that was sometimes emotional and largely divided on the issue. But the chances of this controversial bill becoming law are unclear, particularly in an election year. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

March 4, 2004
EDITORIAL
Death with dignity isn’t going away

Lawmakers don’t reintroduce a death-with-dignity measure year after year just for the fun of it. And this session is no different. Since 1999, legislative hearings on physician-assisted suicide in Hawai’i have become increasingly filled with the terminally ill who are weary of pain and loss of control and fearful that they are overburdening the burned-out friends and relatives who take care of them. There are also several organizations that lobby strongly in favor of death with dignity. Needless to say, many of their members are elderly. MORE.

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

March 3, 2004
Hearing set on “death-with-dignity” bill
By Lynda Arakawa

The House Judiciary Committee will hear a controversial bill tomorrow that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives. House Bill 862, which carried over from last session, would allow terminally ill, competent patients to obtain a lethal dose of medication that they would take themselves. It was introduced last year by Reps. Blake Oshiro, D-33rd (Halawa, ‘Aiea, Pearlridge); Eric Hamakawa, D-3rd (Hilo, Kea’au, Mt. View); Scott Saiki, D-22nd (McCully, Pawa’a); Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa); and Sylvia Luke, D-26th (Punchbowl, Pacific Hts., Nu’uanu Valley). MORE

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October 1, 2003
EDITORIAL
Onstage suicide isn’t death with dignity

We back the right of terminally ill patients to die with dignity, and have urged Hawai’i to pass legislation modeled on Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law. But our support for allowing the dying diseased to end their lives on their own terms in no way sanctions a publicity stunt by a Mainland hard-rock band to “raise awareness that physician-assisted suicide be legalized in Florida.” The Tampa-based band had planned an onstage suicide at a show at the State Theater in St. Petersburg. It claimed a terminally ill person would kill himself during the show. MORE

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HSB_Masthead

Saturday, July 26, 2003
EDITORIAL
GIVE TERMINALLY ILL OPTION OF DOCTOR’S AID

 

THE ISSUE Studies show doctors are illegally prescribing lethal doses to terminally ill patients, while other patients are speeding their own deaths.

OPPONENTS of physician-assisted suicide should not be under the illusion that terminally ill patients in Hawaii are not finding ways to die with dignity, or that physicians are not helping them to do so. National surveys indicate that a significant number of doctors are honoring requests for lethal prescriptions or injections, and many patients are bringing about their own deaths by refusing to eat or drink. Hawaii’s lack of a “death with dignity” act means only that the terminally ill are denied the most humane method of bringing their suffering to an end. MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
EDITORIAL

The good, bad, ugly in Legislature’s last days While the full flavor of any legislative session cannot be known until the final gavel falls, it is possible to see the outlines of the 2003 session of the Hawai`i State Legislature. It adds up to a combination of disappointments and successes, colored throughout by a tough budget year where there simply wasn’t enough money to go around. Here’s a brief look at where we believe the Legislature is on the MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

Monday, March 10, 2003
EDITORIAL
Oregon not deluged with assisted suicides

A report just published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that Oregon’s five-year-old “Death with Dignity” law has not – as critics predicted – opened the floodgates to abuse. On the contrary, physician-assisted suicides accounted for just 0.1 percent of all deaths. If families, physicians and others were using the law to goad burdensome relatives or patients to end their lives, we’d presumably be seeing much higher numbers than the following: MORE

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HA_Masthead_sm-1

Monday, February 24, 2003
Letters to the Editor
How to die should be a matter of choice
By Paul A. Spiers

Chairman-elect, board of directors, The Hemlock Society & Foundation

I was impressed by Yasmin Anwar’s well-written piece on her father’s death (Focus, Feb. 16). I want to thank her for being candid about her family and her own suffering as she had to deal with this issue.

How we are to die should be a matter of personal choice, and, since I am paraplegic, access and choice are important to me every day. They certainly will be just as, if not more, important to me as my time on this Earth draws to a close. Why should what little control I have worked so hard to achieve be so completely taken away from me as I face death?

It is not for me to deny a prolonged death to those who wish to follow their own religious beliefs, but neither is it for them to deny me a hastened death when “my spirit is barely flickering in the frail shell that once was my body.”

I hope Hawai’i will soon show the way to the other states by being the first to follow Oregon. Hopefully, the citizens of this beautiful island state have spoken loudly enough in recent polls that legislators will have heard the voice of their own people over the din of negative campaigning and will vote to ensure this last, ultimate civil right.

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‘Death with dignity’ foes misrepresent its aim
By Robert A. Wilcox

Much of the voiced opposition to a “death with dignity” bill here has misrepresented both the philosophy and the specifics of such legislation. The bill “prohibits mercy killing, lethal injection and active euthanasia.” Instead, it would allow a competent and terminally ill adult the right to request a prescription for medication to hasten death when all reasonable efforts to relieve pain and suffering have proved ineffective. The Oregon experience, where assisted dying has been legal for more than five years, has identified no slippery slope of abuse of this law. Typically, those who choose this option are at the very end of their lives. They do not want their few remaining days spent tethered to tubes and wires, often unable to eat, speak or go to the bathroom themselves. To palliate pain with extremely heavy drug dosage can reduce “life” to other physical miseries that are humiliating and degrading. Death is inevitable. The ability of a terminally ill, mentally competent adult to make that decision is the ultimate civil liberty and should not be infringed upon by those who would not make that choice.

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HA_Masthead_sm-1 Sunday, February 16, 2003

Difficult decisions on dying

By the time my father, Makhdum Mohammad Anwar, was moribund, his mind was so feeble that my brother, Ralph, and I were forced to play an exhausting guessing game. In his hospital room overlooking a courtyard where smokers gathered, we had to guess whether he wanted to eat or not, sleep or not, be touched or not. MORE

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pbn

Wednesday, February 13, 2003
Poll says voters support death with dignity legislation

About 71 percent of Hawai’i voters support proposed death with dignity legislation, according to a QMark Research & Polling survey. A similar QMark study a year ago showed the same level of support when the bill was first introduced, the company said. The question in the survey asked voters if they would support or oppose legislation allowing the terminally ill people with sound minds the right to have physicians assist them in dying if there were appropriate safeguards to protect against abuse. “The strong support for death with dignity in the face of very vocal and well funded opposition has not eroded in the least,” said Barbara Ankersmit, QMark president. “People in Hawai’i clearly want control over their end-of-life decisions and a full range of options to choose from, including a hastened death.” QMark polled 500 residents statewide from January 4 to February 1.

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MEDIA ADVISORY

February 12, 2003

NEW DEATH WITH DIGNITY POLL CONFIRMS GAINS IN VOTER SUPPORT

HONOLULU –  Today’s announcement of the most recent Hawaii poll regarding Death with Dignity should come as no surprise to Hawaii’s citizens,” says Scott Foster, Communications Director for Death with Dignity Hawaii. According to the latest poll, “registered voters in Hawaii support proposed Death with Dignity legislation by an overwhelming 71%, the same high level of support found in a similar poll when the bill was introduced one year ago.” Both surveys were conducted by QMark Research & Polling of Honolulu.

Foster also said, “This poll is particularly telling as it comes only days after the end of a massive media campaign against the proposal paid for by well-funded local and mainland right-to-life organizations. Sadly, however, the right-to-life media campaign seems to have had an effect on the legislature. With time running out, no hearings are scheduled in either the House or Senate for the current bill.” Foster also said that there was no way to tell exactly how much money had been funneled into the media effort from the mainland because the state’s campaign spending laws apply only to monies contributed to influence elections and constitutional amendments.

Foster further observed, “This will be a defining year for the Hawaii Legislature on this timely issue. The Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel On Living and Dying supported the issue in 1998, and Death with Dignity legislation was first introduced in 1999 and came within three votes of passing during the 2002 session. Similar legislation is now being considered in Vermont and Arizona.”

The issue is supported in Hawai`i by a coalition of local organizations including the Hawai`i Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Advocates for Consumer Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, Free Thinkers Maui, Hemlock Society Hawai’i, Humanists Hawai’i, the Kokua Council, and Hawai’i Compassion In Dying. The effort is also supported by many members of Hawaii’s medical and legal communities.

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ap

January 7, 2002
Son of famous admiral commits suicide with wife

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Rear Adm. Chester W. Nimitz Jr., a decorated World War II submarine veteran and only son of Navy Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, died with his wife, Joan Labern Nimitz. He was 86 and she was 89. The couple faced deteriorating health and chose to take their own lives a day after a New Year’s Day celebration with their family, said their daughter, Betsy Van Dorn. MORE

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February 07, 2011
Assisted suicide bill stalls
Emotional testimony fills a hearing on voluntary end of life
By B.J. Reyes

After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor’s terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night. The Senate Health Committee heard more than 4 1/2 hours of often-emotional public testimony before voting 4-0 to hold the bill in committee. MORE

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February 7, 2011

Senate panel fails to advance Death With Dignity bill

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – After listening to hours of testimony, state lawmakers decided to hold a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. The vote by members of the Senate Health Committee essentially kills Senate Bill 803 relating to death with dignity. The proposed legislation would allow a terminally ill, competent adults to receive a lethal dose of medication. More than 150 people signed up to testify. The testimony was overwhelmingly against the bill, but emotions ran high on both sides. MORE

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October 9, 2010

Michael Caine: “I asked doctor to help my father die.”

Oscar-winning actor persuaded a hospital doctor to end his father’s suffering in 1955

By Damien Pearse

Sir Michael Caine has revealed how he persuaded a doctor to help his terminally ill father die. The Oscar-winning actor makes the confession in a radio interview to be broadcast today and goes on to say he agrees with voluntary euthanasia. MORE

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