Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hawaii Legislature scuttles assisted suicide

Great news.

Yesterday the Senate Health Committee in Hawaii unanimously rejected Bill SB 803, a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide. SB 803 was sponsored by Hawaii Senator Ige.

The article that was published today by CNBC:

A Hawaii legislative panel on Monday unanimously voted down a bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, ending the possibility that it would become law this year.

The Senate Health Committee dropped the issue following 4½ hours of testimony overwhelmingly against the proposal.

Dozens of car-accident survivors, elderly care providers and disabled Hawaii residents told state lawmakers they shouldn't allow terminally ill, competent adults to receive medication to end life. The bill prohibited mercy killings and lethal injections.

A much smaller group of people testified that they should be able to decide their fate.

Kevin Inouye spoke from his wheelchair about how he thought about killing himself for five years following a car wreck, and he said he would have lied to doctors to make it happen if the law had allowed him to.

"All I thought about was killing myself. I had no hope," said Inouye, who wore a yellow sticker saying, "No doctor prescribed death." "As soon as my situation got a little bit better and I learned to live with my disabilities, I wanted to live again."

Others, such as Marcia Linville, who went through two hip replacements and couldn't walk for eight months, said she deserves the right to end her own life if the time comes.

"As much as I want to live, when the time comes, if I want to die, that is also my choice — nobody else's," she said.

Health Committee Chairman Josh Green, a Big Island emergency room doctor, said he was swayed by the vast majority of testifiers who opposed the bill.

"For an issue of this magnitude, I believe we need to have much more agreement as a community," said Green, D-Milolii-Waimea. "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."

Many opponents of assisted suicide said people who are sick, injured or depressed aren't able to make competent life-or-death decisions for themselves.

"We do not need a law that is presented to people when they are vulnerable, sick and unable to think clearly," said Kim Howard, who has been a quadriplegic for 20 years but still paints art by holding a brush in her mouth.

Hawaii last heard assisted suicide proposals in 2005 and 2007, when the legislation failed to make it out of committee as it did Monday.

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