Can Hawaii physicians already provide death with dignity?


HONOLULU, Hawaii – Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, and the Hawai’i Death With Dignity Society, a local organization with corresponding goals, today announced an October 5, 2011 panel discussion on aid in dying by a group of experts on Hawaiian law, medicine, elder care, legislative, and end-of-life issues. The panel will consider whether Hawaii physicians may provide aid in dying, subject to professional scope of practice. A careful review of Hawaii’s existing statutes suggests physicians may already be able to provide such interventions without fear of criminal sanction.

“Most medical care is governed by professional scope of practice standards,” said Compassion & Choices Director of Legal Affairs Kathryn Tucker, “These standards accept other life-ending practices, such as withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, and palliative sedation. Hawaii law empowers patients to make autonomous decisions regarding their end-of-life care. And a provision in a 1909 law unique to Hawaii law gives terminally-ill patients significant freedom of choice to determine their course of medical care at the end of life, and protection to physicians who provide care.”


Wednesday, October 5, 12:00–2:00 pm at the Hawaii State Capitol, Main Auditorium


Professor Kathryn Tucker, JD, Director of Legal Affairs, Compassion & Choices; lead counsel for aid-in-dying cases before the United States Supreme Court


– Chair panelist – Representative Blake Oshiro, Hawaii State House Majority Leader
– Former State Representative Ernest “Juggie” Heen
– Robert “Nate” Nathanson, MD, a founder of Hospice Hawaii
– Dante Carpenter, Chair, Democratic Party of Hawaii
– Former State Representative Eve Anderson
– Mitch Burns, attorney of elder law
– Laura Thompson, Hawaii community volunteer
– Pam Lichty, MPH, Board Member, ACLU of Hawaii
– Robert Orfali, author of Death with Dignity
– Scott Foster, co-founder of The Hawai`i Death With Dignity Society

All of the experts assembled at the Capitol for the panel will be available for interviews from 2:00-4:00 pm in a private room next to the Capitol Auditorium following the discussion. For more information please visit or