Democratic Party of Hawaii Activating on Death with Dignity

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.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Adopts Death with Dignity Resolution

The Democratic Party of Hawaii (DPH) has added a new supportive resolution to the DPH Platform. Drafted and lobbied by Scott Foster, on April 23, 2016 the Oahu County Democratic Convention adopted the following Resolution OC2016-8, “On Death with Dignity. “

The resolution 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

May 2016 Legislative Update

Many thanks to all who took the time to contact legislators to support the Death With Dignity legislation introduced at the State Legislature. As expected, because 2016 is an election year, Senate Bill 2373 did not receive the needed committee hearings. Your effort was not in vain because we were able to show an important level of support and the feedback indicates that the senators who introduced the bill were very appreciative.

What Comes Next?

There is much to do between now and the 2017 legislative session and here’s what you can do now:

As possible, get to know your own legislators and the candidates running in your political districts. With the 2016 legislative session now over, all candidates for public office who are running for office are appearing at numerous community functions. Some will be free to the public and the usual political fundraisers are taking place. Find the latest list of all candidates running for office here. We will update this information pending the next official report.

We will be sending out as much information as possible about the dates, times and locations of these events, with the hope that our issue can be brought up directly to all of the candidates “in person.” Your phone calls or visits to their campaigns will be very important. Should you find out that a candidate is supportive or not, it would be of great help if you would let us know the results of your direct contact and interaction.

Ernest Juggie Heen

The late Ernest “Juggie” Heen

Again, “Mahalo!” for your past and future support. As the recent success in California demonstrated, Death With Dignity is very possible for Hawaii — if we build the needed political and grassroots support base. Please feel free to contact us to share information or to answer your questions.

We are naming SB2373 the “Juggie Heen Memorial Bill” in honor of the late former State Representative, Ernest “Juggie” Heen. “Uncle Juggie” has many friends still in the legislature and he worked tirelessly on our behalf. Also visit our memorial gallery honoring many who have gone before us and on whose shoulders we stand.

Scott Foster
Communications & Legislative Director

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.

“This bill is very scary because I think that over the course of my employment, I have also witnessed many people with terminal illness and they have outlived the six months to a year the doctors had given them,” Raelene Souza, an employee at Hawaii Centers for Independent Living.

“I’m in support of this bill because I am 75 years old, and it is nobody’s business whether I choose to live or die. It is my life. It is not theirs, it is not some religion’s, it is my life,” said Marcia Linville, a supporter of the bill.

Similar proposals have been introduced in the House. The Senate bill was based on Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

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.

“After considering the large body of testimony presented to us, I have determined that community sentiment here today has been overwhelmingly opposed to moving this measure forward in its present form,” said Sen. Josh Green, committee chairman. “There is truly compelling testimony on both sides of this matter — for and against — but from my perspective, for an issue of this magnitude, I believe we need to have more agreement as a community.

“So for now we need to find other ways to support those dealing with end-of-life decisions, with the greatest possible compassion and respect.”

Senate Bill 803 would have allowed a terminally ill, competent adult to receive medication to end life. The bill specifically prohibits mercy killings, lethal injections and active euthanasia, and requires patients to receive informed consent.

Alternate doctors would be allowed to substitute for those who decline to participate, and the law also would have provided immunity from civil and criminal liability for acts taken in good faith.

Most of the testimony in opposition came from health care providers, disabled individuals, religious organizations and senior advocate groups, who likened the proposal to state-sponsored killing and arguing that many seniors would feel a “duty to die” to ease the burden on family members charged with their care.

“If we should kill anything, it shouldn’t be our kupuna, it should be this bill,” said Allen Cardines Jr., executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum.

Martin Riggs, who uses a wheelchair, said he had no feeling in his hands or legs but showed up to testify against the proposal to prove a point to doctors and others who have told him he could not do things.

“You never know — if you died today, they might find a cure tomorrow,” said Riggs, 59, of Pearl City.

The proposal was patterned after Oregon’s 1997 landmark Death with Dignity Act, which made it the first state to allow doctor-assisted suicide. But opponents also raised the case of Oregonian Barbara Wagner, a cancer patient whose health insurer refused to cover costly treatment drugs, but instead told her it would cover less expensive lethal drugs.

Supporters urged lawmakers to advance the proposal to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Although proposals have been floating in the Legislature since 1999, it has not faced a full floor vote since 2002, when the Senate voted it down 14-11 on the final day of the regular session.

Among those in support of the proposal was Marsha Joyner, who said she values life but does not want to spend her final days in a hospital hooked up to various machines.

“Is it dignified to die in a hospital with strangers and all that equipment?” Joyner said. “Is that dignity? Is that quality when you could be at home with your loved ones?”

Green (D, Milolii-Waimea) was the last committee chairman to hear it in either chamber, doing so as the House health chairman in 2005 and 2007. The bill failed to make it out of his committee both years.

Green, a doctor, said that with so much turnover in the Legislature — and the Governor’s Office — he felt it was healthy to have fresh debate on such a difficult social issue.