September 1990 Home   Newsletters

October 1990

November-December 1990

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Leaguer Appointed to Land Use Commission
Honolulu League Plans General Membership Meeting
It's Vote Count Time - Teamster's Count is Coming Up
News from National
Golf Course Impact Fees (Arlene Ellis)
Right to Die
Hawaii Community Peace Events
League Supports Golf Course Application Moratorium (Astrid Monson)
Honolulu League Cited for "Speak Out Hawaii" Project
League of Women Voters Presents
Welcome New Members
Dorothy Murdock Honored

The Right to Die

In the first "right-to-die" case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a competent person has the right to refuse life-saving treatment-even food and water. The decision held that an individual who states clearly a desire to have such care given or withheld is entitled to have those wishes honored when and if he or she becomes too ill to express them in person.

But the court did allow states to impose major restrictions on the right to die. Its decision denied efforts by the parents of Nancy Cruzan, a 32-year-old Missouri woman who has been hospitalized in a persistent vegetative state since she was injured in an automobile accident seven years ago, to have her removed from artificial feeding devices that sustain her body. In upholding that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that if Cruzan had left precise enough instructions, her right to choose death over "life" as a vegetable would have to be honored.

However, if people fail to take adequate steps in advance, the court said, the states have the authority of the Constitution to set standards of proof as to what an incompetent patient would want. While the Supreme Court gave states broad latitude in regulating these choices, many legal authorities say the decision guarantees a constitutional "right to die" to those who leave specific instructions.

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The Cruzan case gives a clear message regarding the importance of executing valid advance directives. The Honolulu League office has a sample of a "living will" designed for use in Hawaii. Please call the office if you would like to have a copy.

September 1990 Home   Newsletters November-December 1990