Hurry up and die: Hawaii assisted suicide advocates want to get rid of waiting periods

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In 2018, Hawaii became the sixth state to legalize assisted suicide. As is common with states or countries that legalize assisted suicide, there were certain supposed “safeguards” put into place — but it never takes long for euthanasia advocates to begin pushing for those safeguards to be loosened so more people can die. Hawaii is no different.

In 2019, the first full year in which assisted suicide was legal in Hawaii, 27 people died from it — and yet, it seems that number is too low for some. There is a 20-day waiting period in the state, but the average person waits 34 days to undergo assisted suicide in Hawaii, which euthanasia activists say is too long, complaining that people are dying naturally before they get the chance to kill themselves.

“Remember when a physician says to you, ‘You’ve got six months left to live,’ that’s more art than science,” Dr. Charles Miller, director of the assisted suicide program at Kaiser told Civil Beat. “I’ve seen these patients walk into their bedroom and it’s very clear they’re not going to last 20 days.” Miller claimed that six of his patients died while waiting for assisted suicide.

Civil Beat also reports that the Hawaii Department of Health — just one year after the law was put into place legalizing assisted suicide — is already asking for doctors to have the ability to waive the waiting period. They also complained that there are too few doctors willing to help kill their patients; there are no doctors on the island of Maui, for example, writing assisted suicide prescriptions. Pharmacies seem to be unwilling to dispense the fatal drugs, too.

“There are a number of health care providers, nurses and others who are really uncomfortable about this, so asking anybody to participate as a patient ends their life is a really tough thing,” Melinda Ashton, chief quality officer for Hawaii Pacific Health (one of the largest health care providers in Hawaii) said in a 2019 interview with KOAT. “The most recent barrier does seem to be we haven’t yet located a pharmacy willing to provide the medication.”

READ: Three reasons a Dutch ethicist changed his mind about assisted suicide

Others are hoping to increase the number of suicides by overturning the mental competency requirements.

“I haven’t come across anyone who’s been freaking out because of their diagnosis,” Dr. Brian Goodyear, an Oahu psychologist, said to Civil Beat. “I haven’t come across anybody who is falling apart emotionally because of the situation they’re in. They’ve all been very, very accepting of the situation they’re in and I think they’ve all made a very clear and rational decision to take this option.”

Instead of requiring that patients be found mentally competent, Goodyear wants that to just be an “option” for doctors. Why does this matter? Because as numerous studies have found, including in prestigious publications like the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Medical Journal, most people who request assisted suicide aren’t doing so because they fear dying a painful death from their disease. They do so because they are depressed, lonely, have little-to-no support, and feel hopeless. Once these issues are addressed, the request to die is overwhelmingly withdrawn.

Hawaii shows, yet again, the pervasively dangerous nature of assisted suicide. Though there are always promises of strict safeguards to prevent abuse, once legalized, those safeguards begin to be erased. Once death is seen as the preferable, more humane option, there’s no turning back.

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