Hawaii

2017 Bills
S.B. 357
Text of bill
Analysis of bill

H.B. 201
Text of bill
Analysis of bill

S.B. 1129
Text of bill as amended on 2/15/17
Analysis of bill
The House Committee on Health decided not to advance the proposal on 3/23/17. (See articles below.)

H.B. 150
Text of bill

H.B. 550
Text of bill

2017 Law Suit
“Cancer-stricken lobbyist Radcliffe files right-to-die suit”
(Star Advertiser — January 11, 2017 — Hawaii)
State political lobbyist John Radcliffe, Dr. Charles Miller, and Compassion & Choices [the former Hemlock Society] are suing to prevent Miller from being prosecuted if he prescribes a deadly overdose of drugs to Radcliffe.
Last month Attorney General Douglas Chin offered an opinion that a physician who prescribes a lethal dose of drugs could be charged with manslaughter.

2017 Draft Bill
The “Hawaii Patient Choice at End of Life Act of 2017” is a draft bill to permit doctor-prescribed suicide.  It has been circulating in the lead up to Hawaii’s 2017 legislative session.

If passed as written, Hawaii could easily become a national suicide destination where patients could obtain the prescription for a lethal dose of drugs on the same day they receive the diagnosis of a terminal condition.

The draft bill follows a blueprint recently laid out by Kathryn Tucker in Jurist magazine.  Tucker served for many years as legal director for Compassion and Choices (the former Hemlock Society) and has been the chief litigator in failed cases throughout the country challenging the constitutionality of laws against doctor-prescribed suicide.

Text of draft bill
Analysis of draft bill

Scroll down for articles

Background

In Hawaii, attempts to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide, using a model based on Oregon’s law, have taken place for years. Those bills have failed but assisted-suicide advocates have vowed to continue introducing legislation until they succeed, no matter how long it takes.

Current law regarding assisted suicide

A person commits the offense of manslaughter if the person intentionally causes another person to commit assisted suicide. [Haw. Rev. Stat. § 707-702 (1) (b)]

2016 Failed Legislation
S.B. 2373
Text of bill
Analysis of bill

2015 Failed Legislation

HB 1255 is also styled after Oregon’s doctor-prescribed suicide law and, as with the 2013 proposal a patient must be at least 50 years of age to qualify for assisted suicide.

2013 Failed Legislation

HB 606 was styled after Oregon’s doctor-prescribed suicide law.  However, to qualify for assisted suicide under the measure, the patient must be at least 50 years of age.

2009 and 2011 Bills

In 2011, Hawaii had three bills to permit doctor-prescribed death under consideration in the legislature – SB 803, its companion bill HB 1383, as well as HB 1165.  The bills, as introduced, would have permitted both assisted suicide and euthanasia.
On 2/7/11, SB 803 was defeated in the Senate Health Care committee.

In 2009, three bills were under consideration in the legislature – HB 587, HB 806 and SB 1159 – all titled “Death with Dignity.” The bills were virtually identical and, as introduced, would permit both assisted suicide and euthanasia. On Feb. 18, 2009, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu announced that the House of Representatives would not hold hearings that year on an assisted-suicide bill.

Analysis of 2009 bill (HB 806) View HTML VersionView as PDF

Attorney General’s Analysis of Section 453-1 (HRS)

Hawaii Attorney General Issues Opinion Rejecting Claim by Compassion & Choices That Assisted Suicide Is Already Legal. (December 8, 2011)

Articles

“Most Hawaii House Members Won’t Say Where They Stand on Aid in Dying”
(Civil Beat — April 6, 2017)
The overwhelmingly Democratic chamber’s power brokers decided it was too soon for Hawaii and had concerns about adequate safeguards to prevent abuse.
Rep. Andrea Tupolo said, “I was concerned with the bill because of issues with death certificate accuracy, no mandate that the medication be taken in a controlled environment with a witness, lack of enforcement and no definition for ‘self-administration.'”

“Hawaii Lawmakers Kill Bill to Offer Medical Aid in Dying”
(U.S. News and World Report — March 23, 2017)
Critics raised concerns that ill people might choose suicide to relieve family burdens.

“Lawmakers table controversial ‘death with dignity’ bill following intense debate”
(Hawaii News Now — March 23, 2017)
On Thursday, lawmakers said the bill is poorly written and would need considerable changes.  The House Health Committee deferred the bill, essentially killing it.

“Hawaii Balks At ‘Death With Dignity'”
(Civil Beat — February 22, 2016)
Senate Bill 2373 died in the Consumer Protection and Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Roz Baker.  A similar measure that was introduced last year in the House and was still alive this session also failed to get a hearing.

“AG denounces Aid in Dying ad”
(Hawaii News Now KGMB and KHNL — September 24, 2013)
A nationwide non-profit created an ad claiming that doctors could write prescriptions for suicide in Hawaii.  The state attorney general stated, “What they’re saying is false, misleading and deceptive.”

“Law, Morals and Likely Abuse Trump ‘Compassion'”
(Hawaii Reporter — July 8, 2013)
Advocates of death say that they’re helping people plan and achieve a good death. They say that it’s just a small number of people they’re killing. Well, all government-backed programs start small.

“Hawaii Medical Association Opposes Physician-Assisted Suicide”
(Honolulu Civil Beat — December 10, 2012)
The words of ethicist Hans Jonas summarize well the consequences of embarking upon the dangerous path of legalized physician-assisted suicide: “The role of taker of life must never be assigned to the physician; in any case, the law must never permit him to perform it, for this would jeopardize and perhaps destroy the physician’s role in society. A patient must never have to suspect that his physician might become his executioner.”

“‘Aid in Dying’ supporters vow to help Hawaii’s terminally ill”
(KITV — November 12, 2012)
Assisted Suicide, Aid-in-Dying, whatever you choose to call it, the discussion has been a hot topic nationwide, and now what’s happening in our state has advocates opening the doors….[The president of Compassion and Choices] said in the past year, 31 people have inquired about aid-in-dying, seven qualified to receive medication, and four were actually prescribed it, but she said all four died of natural causes before taking that prescription.

“New Aid-In-Dying Service Getting Inquiries”
(Honolulu Civil Beat — October 5, 2012)
Compassion & Choices Hawaii, a nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, received 31 local inquiries in its first year of service. The figure comes from an annual report released by the Physician Advisory Council for Aid in Dying or PACAID, a group of local doctors that collaborates with Compassion & Choices Hawaii and can prescribe life-ending medication if necessary.

“5 Hawaii doctors offer assisted suicide to terminally ill patients”
(American Medical News — April 17, 2012)
A group of Hawaii physicians is offering to write lethal prescriptions for terminally ill patients in a bid to test whether doctor-assisted suicide is allowed under state law.  “I’m retired.” said Dr. Robert “Nate” Nathanson. “I think the worst that would happen is that they’d take my license away. I don’t think I’m going to put in any jail time…My livelihood doesn’t depend on it, so I can be very brave.”

“Assisted suicide still a no-go-in Aloha State”
(One News Now — December 29, 2011)
In spite of proponents’ unique approach to legalize it, Hawaii’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide remains in place.  Supporters of assisted suicide tried to use a 1909 law that permits the use of remedies for conditions that were, at the time, untreatable by traditional medical methods.  The attempt to interpret the law to permit doctors to prescribe drugs for suicide was rebuffed in an opinion by Hawaii’s current attorney general.

“Native Hawaiians will fight against Assisted Suicide”
(Hawaii Free Press — December 10, 2011)
Panel refutes claims that 1909 law permits assisted suicide, noting that assisted-suicide activists have been trying to legalize the practice for years.

Hawaii Attorney General Issues Opinion Rejecting Claim by Compassion & Choices That Assisted Suicide Is Already Legal. (December 8, 2011)

“Hawaii Physicians Rally Against Assisted Suicide”
(Hawaii Free Press — December 2, 2011)
The Senate Health Committee heard a physician-assisted suicide (PAS) bill at the 2011 session and voted not to send the bill any further. That should have ended consideration of the issue for 2012 also, but indications are that advocates of PAS may engage in unusual maneuvering to have PAS heard again in the 2012 session.

“Hawaii Legislature scuttles assisted suicide” ( CNBC – – February 8, 2011 )
A Hawaii legislative panel on Monday unanimously voted down a bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide.  Kevin Inouye who spoke in opposition to the bill from his wheelchair wore a yellow sticker saying, “No doctor prescribed death.”

“Assisted suicide bill stalls”
( Star Advertiser – – February 8, 2011 )
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.

“Hawaii – Robert Yagi Dead, and Assisted Suicide Advocates Continue to Exploit the Tragedy”
( Not Dead Yet News Commentary – December 14, 2009 )
71-year-old Robert Yagi committed suicide after attempting to kill his wife with a flare gun loaded with a shotgun shell.  According to assisted-suicide advocate Andi Van der Voort, the law should be changed to permit assisted suicide. “I think it’s awful that someone has to shoot you,” she said.
Comment: Apparently, Van der Voort (who was formerly president of the Hawaii Hemlock Society and now serves on the board of the Final Exit Network) believes that giving doctors the power to prescribe poison is the only way to prevent husbands from killing their wives.

“Assisted-suicide bill in death throes: Stiff opposition seems likely to keep the legislation from surviving the session.” (Hawaii Star-Bulletin 2/8/07)

“Hearing passionate on death with dignity.” (Honolulu Advertiser 2/8/07)

Doctor-assisted suicide bill fades at Legislature (Hawaii Star-Bulletin) 2/6/05

Proposal seeks the right to death” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, 3/8/04)

“Suicide bill goes to full house” (Honolulu Star Bulletin, 3/5/04)

“Teach options to assisted suicide instead” by Herbert Hendin and Kathleen Foley (Honolulu Advertiser, 2/9/03)

Hawaii: Assisted suicide bill dies in Senate (Update, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2002).

Hawaiian Senate resurrects then narrowly defeats assisted suicide bill (Update, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2002).