Hawaii State Senator Joshua Green, MD, has authorized release of the Attorney General's opinion rejecting C & C's claim that assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii. The opinion states in part:
"Dear Senator Green:
Re: Hawaii law on assistance with dying
You have asked (1) whether §453-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), authorizes a physician to assist a terminally ill patient with dying when requested by or on behalf of the patient, and (2) whether any criminal laws prohibit aid in dying.
We are assuming that a physician’s assistance with dying would consist of prescribing a lethal dose of medication that a terminally ill patient could take to bring on a swifter and possibly more peaceful death than would otherwise ensue. Our analysis addresses only this method of assistance. Briefly, (1) we do not believe that §453-1 provides authority for a physician to assist with dying, and (2) a physician who provided such assistance could be charged under Hawaii’s manslaughter statute. . . ."
To view the entire six page opinion: click here
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Doctor-prescribed overdose ruled illegal: Attorney general rejects arguments from 'Hemlock Society'
by Bob Unruh, December 23, 2011 World Net Daily
The Hawaii attorney general has issued an opinion that under state law, doctors may not prescribe fatal doses of medication, blasting a hole in the arguments of the former Hemlock Society, now called Compassion and Choices.
Word comes from state Sen. Josh Green, a doctor who had asked for the opinion from Attorney General David Louie.
Green asked for the legal opinion after learning from media reports and an Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorney that the pro-euthanasia organization was arguing that state law allows for physicians to assist in suicides.
Green reported he was told that state law "does not authorize physicians to assist terminally ill patients with dying" and "a physician who provided assistance with death could be charged under Hawaii's manslaughter statute."
"Depressed patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves. State law reflects this, and no one should believe the recent falsehoods that pro-death proponents have spread about the law. The Hawaii attorney general has clearly concluded that state law does not permit doctor-prescribed death and that any physician who participates in it can be prosecuted," said Honolulu attorney Jim Hochberg, one of nearly 2,100 ADF attorneys.
He was part of an expert panel this month on physician-assisted suicide and wrote about the issue in a commentary in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
There, he argued against the argument raised by Barbara Combs Lee, president of Compassion and Choices, that assisted suicide was legal in the state.
"Although a law specifically designed to institute assisted suicide failed to pass in Hawaii's Legislature in 2002, Compassion and Choices contends that such a practice is already legal, anyway. According to Lee, a law passed in 1909 when Hawaii was a territory allows doctors to legally prescribe life-ending drugs to patients who have been diagnosed as terminally ill," he wrote.
"Lee and those associated with her take this position based on that law's allowance of 'furnishing any remedial agents' to such patients: 'When a duly licensed physician pronounces a person afflicted with any disease hopeless and beyond recovery and shall give a written certificate to that effect to the person afflicted to his or her attendant nothing herein contained shall be held or construed to forbid any person from giving or furnishing any remedial agent or measure when so requested by or on behalf of such afflicted person,'" he wrote.
He said a more logical understanding of the law was that when doctors had exhausted all traditional treatment methods, the law would allow them to try what a century ago may have been considered unorthodox.
"In other words, the statute Lee and [others] are using in 2011 to support death was actually passed in 1909 to allow any person to exhaust every possibility in extending life – specifically to extend life once a doctor gave a patient a certificate that the patient was afflicted with terminal leprosy, tuberculosis or asthma," he said.
ADF: Attorney General Rejects Claim That Assisted Suicide is "Already Legal"