NO. It’s not legal in Hawai`i.
What really happened with Death with Dignity in 2012
In 2012, one of the two large mainland right-to-die organizations came to Hawaii in force and declared that death with dignity was already legal in our state. Compassion & Choices lawyer had based their argument upon a little-known 1909 Hawaii territorial law.
Shortly thereafter, the Hawai`i Attorney General stepped-in, issuing an opinion that writing prescriptions to hasten a competent adult’s impending death was still unlawful in Hawai`i—meaning that that such activity was still a crime and would be prosecuted as such.
After all the headline stories had died down, we found ourselves left alone fielding hundreds of phone calls from terminally ill people and their loved ones asking how they could get their prescription. We were also faced with having to rebuild our local organization’s reputation for being associated with Compassion and Choices ill fated “It’s legal” campaign.
Then in late 2015, our longtime friends at the Death with Dignity National Center (“National Center”) in Portland, Oregon, contacted us and graciously offered to again assist.
I say “again” because our close relationship with the National Center and their founding board member Eli Stutsman, JD, dates back to 2002, when our local organization came within three votes of passing a bill through the Hawai`i legislature. That year, literally with only a few days notice, Stutsman, the lead author of the original Oregon law, stepped up to the plate and his organization provided a major part of the substantial resources we needed to conduct our near-winning campaign.
Learn about the 2002 campaign HERE.
The Hawaii Death With Dignity Society meets again with Eli Stutsman (back row with lei) in Honolulu (2009)
It’s been over 20 years since “the Oregon Bill” went into effect and it has indeed become the gold standard for the issue nationally. The National Center has played a key role in every state that has successfully passed a Death with Dignity law. While others may claim credit, the National Center’s track record speaks for itself. If we are to grow our local organization and attract the additional base of support needed to pass a bill in 2017, we want and indeed need, the National Center’s guidance and support.
Support Death with Dignity in the Aloha State
If you believe we need a local organization on the ground with a keen understanding of Hawai`i’s unique population, a local group working to see a Hawai`i Death with Dignity law passed, please consider making a contribution today to theNational Center HERE. You may also write a check payable to the DDNC and mail it to:
Death with Dignity National Center
520 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1220
Portland, OR 97204
With your support, our work will continue in the present with a full understanding of the past and with an eye looking towards the future. We will ultimately prevail and see Death with Dignity a reality in Hawai`i nei.
Please feel free to email or call me directly for further information. As much as money, we need active participants in every corner of the state; people who are able to make a phone call, email or write a legislator or who can simply talk with and educate their relatives, caregivers and friends.
Aloha and mahalo for your kokua,