Death with dignity ad draws fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Death with dignity ad draws fire

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The announcer in a television advertisement for a non-profit called Compassion & Choices says, "Did you know in Hawaii, terminally ill adults can obtain a prescription from their doctor for medication to end their own suffering?"

That statement drew Sen. Josh Green's attention. He is also a doctor.

"The law says it's not legal to have physician assisted suicide, which is to say get a prescription from a doctor for a medicine that will cause death directly," he said.

Compassion and Choices insists Hawaii law empowers people to choose what it calls aid in dying.

"Nobody is giving them a shot or mixing the drugs and holding it to their lips. You must be able to administer it yourself," Mary Steiner said.

She is the group's Hawaii campaign manager. She said aid in dying is an option in Hawaii that's a right for someone with a terminal illness.

"You don't want to die but you also don't want to suffer needlessly," she said. "If you know that you're terminally ill and you're mentally competent it should be a choice."

The Hawaii Medical Association and a handful of other organizations call the message misleading. Eva Andrade is a member of Hawaii Partnership for Appropriate and Compassionate Care. She said physicians can be charged with manslaughter.

"Once that line is crossed, how can you trust the very people that you go to provide you with better end of life care?" she said.

Compassion and Choices formed a Hawaii physician advisory council. It's web site said the doctors are ready to support patients who choose aid in dying.

"We believe that there is a constellation of statutes that surround all medical care in Hawaii. We do not have a prohibition specifically against this kind of action," Steiner said.

The advertisement said Compassion and Choices Hawaii is "working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life."

So far Hawaii doctors have written prescriptions for four people. Two died without taking the drugs. Two others are holding onto them as an option.

You can learn more about Compassion and Choices Hawaii at www.compassionandchoices.org.