Hawaii legalises assisted suicide
6 April 2018
Governor David Ige signs Hawaii's assisted suicide bill into law.
Hawaii has just become the eighth jurisdiction in the United States to legalise physician assisted suicide.
Yesterday, Governor David Ige signed into law House Bill 2739, which "establishes a regulated process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease and less than six months to live may choose to obtain a prescription for medication to end the patient's life."
Hawaii's House of Representatives voted 39-12 in favour on 6 March, and the Senate voted 23-2 on the 29th to send it to the Governor.
State mandated lying
According to Care Not Killing, the "deeply political" text of the new law requires that the underlying illness which leads someone to seek death by assisted suicide be recorded as the 'immediate' cause of death. "Terms such as 'assisted dying' and 'aid in dying' might be considered examples of extreme poetic licence, but to register cancer (for example) as the 'immediate' cause of death when the heart stopped beating that day entirely as a result of ingesting a barbiturate is not only a lie, but one now mandated by state law," their report says.
Bucking the trend
Hawaii is the sixth state to legalise assisted suicide, joining California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state. Washington DC also passed a "death with dignity" act last year, while the state of Montana's Supreme Court deemed it legal in 2009.
However, advocates of assisted suicide have had less success in other US states. Bills failed in 26 states in 2017 and this year they have been introduced in 25 states.
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says so far Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and New Hampshire have said no to the euthanasia/assisted suicide lobby. "Utah actually passed a bill this year which criminalizes assisted suicide," he notes. "So opponents are leading in the effort to educate the public and lawmakers on the dangers of doctors helping people take their lives."
"I'm dying...and I reject euthanasia"
Meanwhile, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Sydney is carrying the story of Anna Corry, who spoke out against euthanasia before dying of aggressive breast cancer on Holy Thursday, at the age of 50.
There is no reason to fear unbearable pain at the end of life, she said. "A diagnosis of a terminal illness can be an enormous strain of stress and fear on a person and the family," Mrs Corry said: "Every type of pain can be addressed, and I’ve witnessed that myself. I can’t understand why people aren’t instructed that the pain relief available is totally adequate.
"[People who use euthanasia] are potentially robbing friends and family of beautiful acts of kindness and service which bring them much joy,” she continued. "Mine wouldn’t have had that if I had perhaps 12 or even six months ago committed suicide through the act of euthanasia."
News in brief: