End-of-Life Choice, Death with Dignity, Palliative Care and Counseling


Photo Credit: Jason Meredith

Compassion & Choices is Laying the Groundwork for Aid in Dying in Hawaii

The people of Hawaii overwhelmingly support aid in dying and physicians are ready to honor a terminally ill person’s request for a peaceful death by incorporating it into standard medical practice. At Compassion & Choices’ urging, the new Hawaii Attorney General has agreed to revise a 2011 opinion letter to reflect a change in position, which we hope will pave the way for access to aid in dying. In 1998, Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano established a Blue Ribbon Panel on Living and Dying with Dignity. The panel recommended reforms for end-of-life care, including the right to aid in dying if the dying process became prolonged and unbearable. However, an effort to codify this recommendation through legislation was defeated by the narrowest of margins in 2002. Since then, dedicated activists have kept this vision alive. 2011 brought new hope for dignity and choice at life’s end. For 18 months Compassion & Choices worked to implement a standard of care for aid in dying in Hawaii. Opposition from former-Attorney General David Louie temporarily shut down the effort, but with new leadership from that office, we are more committed than ever.

What’s Next?

Compassion & Choices will continue to fight for the people of Hawaii’s access to a full array of choices at the end of life. We’re working on grassroots organization, outreach to opinion leaders and a comprehensive public education campaign. We intend to launch a broad campaign to help prepare medical practitioners for implementation of a newly recognized medical practice. In order for aid in dying to become a truly feasible option in Hawaii, doctors need to feel safe.

You Can Help

To make this campaign a reality, we have received a $250,000 challenge grant from the Stupski Family Foundation of the Hawaii Community Foundation. For the next three years, every donation to Compassion & Choices Hawaii will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000! Please donate now and help make medical aid in dying a reality.

Join our team of advocates to ensure that Hawaii has the full array of end of life choices. Email [email protected] to become a volunteer!

Robust Public Support in Hawaii

Public support for end-of-life options is even stronger in Hawaii than the national average. Polls have consistently reported 75% to 85% of residents support individual decision-making at the end of life. In 2012, Compassion & Choices Hawaii released findings from a public opinion poll to determine public sentiment. It revealed:

• 77% of respondents favored allowing those who are dying of a terminal disease the choice to request and receive medication from their physician to bring about a peaceful death.

• 90% agreed that aid in dying is a personal decision, one between a patient and their doctor.

• 83% said the medical community, rather than the government, should establish proper guidelines and safeguards.

• 81% trusted their doctors to respond appropriately to a request for medication to bring about a peaceful death if suffering became unbearable.


Hawaii Advance Directive

If your end-of-life plans aren’t in place yet, follow the link  to find the most recent forms and resources for end-of-life planning.

Contact Information

To learn how you can get involved with Compassion & Choices Hawaii, please contact Mary Steiner, Hawaii Campaign Manager, via E-mail at [email protected] or call her at 808-225-4563. You also can call 1-800-247-7421.

In an exclusive interview with Katie Couric, 46-year-old Christy O’Donnell, a former Hawaii resident who has terminal cancer, talks about her desire to die peacefully and legally in her home state of California.

Call an End-of-Life Consultant 800-247-7421