Lawmakers to take up 'death with dignity' bill in new year

Lawmakers to take up 'death with dignity' bill in new year
Updated: Dec. 14, 2016 at 5:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the state Legislature convenes next month, state Sen. Karl Rhoads will renew the debate over "death with dignity."

Rhoads plans to introduce a bill on the issue, and believes the majority of Hawaii's residents support it.

"It should be your decision on whether you want to end your life, depending on how the circumstances are physically," he said.

But opponents are expected to come out in force, as they have in the past.

Among them: Duke Aiona, president of Hawaii Family Advocates.

"Call it what you may, but it is assisted suicide," he said, adding that he believes on focusing on pain management and hospice care and not a law that would put life-ending drugs in the hands of terminal patients.

"There are some people who would probably use it, who you could say would maybe benefit from it, but they're very small in numbers," he said.

Aid-in-dying advocate and former lawmaker Blake Oshiro said a recent poll commissioned by advocates could convince lawmakers to more seriously discuss death with dignity than they have in the past.

Some 88 percent of those polled "want this option for themselves," he said.

In Hawaii, some doctors use "terminal sedation" to treat patients in the last stages of life. Higher doses of morphine are prescribed until the patient stops breathing.

Dr. Charles Miller believes medical aid-in-dying is more humane.

"But do you understand the difference in choice? The time and how that patient dies is the doctor's choice. It's not the patient's choice," he said.

But physican Craig Nakatsuka fears if a bill is passed, many elderly will end their lives prematurely.

"I can tell you story after story of my own of supporting patients who are in despair, truly wanting to end their lives. And with our support never bring that up again," he said.

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