Hawaii Legislators Scrap Assisted Suicide Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Hawaii Legislators Scrap Assisted Suicide Bill

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 10, 2004

Honolulu, HI (LifeNews.com) — State legislators in Hawaii have decided — for now — to pull a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide. Thanks to an election year and opposition from Governor Linda Lingle, legislators felt this session wasn’t the right time to make a second stab at passing legislation that would allow the grisly practice.

State House Democrats sent the measure back to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The panel approved the bill last week.

House Judiciary Vice Chairman Blake Oshiro (D) said members were divided and a consensus was established that it was better to bring up the bill again next session.

"People were a little uncomfortable about taking this up in an election year," Oshiro told the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper.

The legislation would allow a patients to obtain a lethal dose of medication from a doctor for the purpose ending their life. Mercy killing, lethal injections, and active euthanasia are still prohibited. If a patient’s primary doctor will not prescribe the drugs, they are allowed to get another doctor to write the prescription.

The measure also faced an uphill battle in the Senate, which narrowly voted down the assisted suicide bill once before.

Should the legislative put its stamp on the bill, it would almost assuredly be vetoed by Governor Lingle, who says it could lead to more drastic measures against the elderly.

Pro-life groups say the state should instead focus on treating patient pain.
"I oppose physician-assisted suicide because we should treat pain and suffering, not avoid it by killing the sufferer," testified Jackie Mishler, a registered nurse at the Judiciary Committee hearings.

"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," she said.

In 2002, a similar bill, backed by then-governor Ben Cayetano (D), passed the House 30-20, but it was defeated in the Senate by only 3 votes. Sixteen house seats and seven Senate seats have changed hands — and four of the Senators who opposed the so-called Death with Dignity Act are no longer present.