Last month, Democratic leadership of the Hawaii House of Representatives fast-tracked the so-called "Death with Dignity" bills, House Bill 587 and HB 806, re-assigning them from both the Health and Judiciary committees to just one, Judiciary. Physician-assisted suicide is an issue that intimately involves the medical community, in addition to affecting the public. Bypassing the Health committee and not allowing this legislation to be considered by health experts shows ignorance and disrespect on the part of House leadership for the health care community and people of Hawaii.
Legalization of physician- assisted suicide irrevocably transforms the role of the physician-healer from one of preserving life to one of ending life. It leads to deterioration of the doctor-patient relationship and adversely affects the entire health care delivery system.
We know watching Oregon and the Netherlands that physician-assisted suicide leaves society's most vulnerable — the poor, sick, elderly and disabled — subject to abuse and coercion, regardless of proposed safeguards. Once the door to doctor-facilitated death is opened, the expectation arises that certain population segments have a "duty to die" because they are "less useful" and "over-users of resources." This leads to genocide, eugenics and abuses of the worst kind.
Joseph DiCostanzo Jr., M.D. and Karen DiCostanzo
Friday, March 06, 2009
Letter to the Editor - There's no 'dignity' in assisted suicide
Honolulu Star Bulletin