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Right to die ought to be protected

The Public Health Law Organization is a student organization of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Our organization is committed to promoting public health in Hawaii.

We strongly support the bills (HB 862 and SB 391) on "death with dignity," which would permit physicians to provide, but not administer, a lethal prescription to terminally ill adults if two doctors agree that:

1) the patient has fewer than six months to live,
2) the patient is capable of making health-care related decisions, and
3) the patient has made the decision to die voluntarily.

We support these bills for several reasons.

First, under the concepts of liberty set forth in the 14th Amendment, each person should have the fundamental right to control the manner in which they die.

The 14th Amendment protects such substantive rights as the right to marry (Loving vs.Virginia, 1967), the right to have children (Skinner vs. Oklahoma, 1942), the right to raise one's children (Meyer vs. Nebraska 1923); Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, 1925), the right to marital privacy (Griswold vs.Connecticut, 1965), the right to use contraceptives (Eisenstadt vs. Baird, 1972), the right to bodily integrity (Rochin vs. California,1952), the right to an abortion (Carey vs. Population Services International 1977), and the right to refuse medical treatment (Cruzan vs. Director, Missouri Department of Health 1990).

The right to control the manner in which one dies should not be any less fundamental than the right to refuse medical treatment or the right to have an abortion.

Second, Hawaii is comprised of a diverse mix of people from diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds; many of Hawaii's residents are immigrants from different countries. Individuals from different countries, cultures and religions will often have different ideas and views about end-of-life issues.

When faced with a terminal disease, people should be free to follow their cultural practices and personal mores, including self-administered euthanasia. Hawaii should be culturally sensitive to these choices.

Therefore, we respectfully ask Hawaii residents to support the "death with dignity" bills by writing letters to their legislators.

Larry Tam
Public Health Law Organization

Law should take action against speeders

The only thing worse than the loss of an innocent life to racers on H-1 last week was the pathetic excuses offered for the continued inability of the police to take action. People continue to die because stopping racers is simply not a priority.

On television news, one officer said, "We can't impound the cars, we have nowhere to keep them." Really? I'm sure there are some empty lots.

Another officer said, "We know there is a problem with racers on the Pearl City highways, but we haven't had time to deal with it."

We can either continue to allow the racers to remove themselves (and a few of us) every few days in deadly accidents, or the police and lawmakers can take action and remove them from our streets at a few per week by taking their cars and their freedom.

Scott Minium

Legislator's remarks showed religious slant

What a pitiful point for Sen. Kalani English to make regarding Governor Lingle's trip to Iraq, that he "thought it strange to send a Jewish woman into a Muslim country" (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 11). On several different levels I am very offended.

Being Jewish, I find it hard to believe that the senator cites the differences between the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith. There are likely more American Christians in Iraq than American Jews, and the difference between Muslims and Christians is at least as vast as that between Jews and Muslims. What about our troops? Would it be more sensitive to pull out all U.S. soldiers who aren't Muslim?

My primary concern is that English confused Governor Lingle's motive. She did not take her Torah to evangelize. She wore no Star of David. Nothing made her stand out as a Jew.

What she did have plastered on the front of her jacket was an American flag. She did not go to Iraq as a Jew, but as an American and as a governor trying to support and encourage the troops from her state. She was helping morale, and I wish that English could do the same.

Jill Geiger

Regretful faux pas and a prayer for peace

I want to offer my apology for a poor choice of words in my informal comments to a news reporter regarding Governor Lingle's surprise visit to Iraq ("Lingle cloaks trip to Iraq in secrecy," Star-Bulletin, Feb. 11).

I certainly did not intend to offend anyone. My true intention was to raise awareness by considering the implications for U.S. diplomacy in that sensitive region where anti-Semitism and discrimination on the basis of sex are prevalent.

As a person of Hawaiian, Jewish, Chinese, Tahitian and, of course, English ancestry, I abhor prejudice and discrimination on any basis and certainly support all efforts to advance human rights.

As a trained diplomat, my first impulse was to address the larger geo-political issues surrounding the U.S. occupation of Iraq; where an appreciation of cultural and religious differences is important to getting all sides to sit together and talk.

I support open and honest communications that seek the highest level of common understanding. To reach this goal, I join with all the citizens of Hawaii and pray for peace.

Sen. J. Kalani English
D, 6th District
(Hana-East-Upcountry Maui
Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe)

Pay disparities are remarkable

It's amazing, isn't it? Longshoremen receive high five-figure to six-figure salaries, cement workers earn up to six-figures, bus drivers receive more than $50,000, and construction workers generally do as well. These jobs require a high school education and, in some instances, special training.

And isn't it amazing that the dedicated people who worked hard to give them the high school education, teachers -- who must have a college degrees specializing in their field of teaching, pass a state qualification test and continue their education to stay current -- are paid less than construction workers, the lowest paid of the bunch referenced in the first paragraph?

Many people believe that even though teachers frequently work more than an eight-hour day and attend training and seminars on their own time, they are over paid.

And to answer some critics, no, teachers do not keep the same school-day hours as students. Their day at school IS longer, and they work additional hours at home.

Yes, it is amazing.

Bernard Judson

Skye's story helps others endure hardship

Thank you so much for the most inspiring story on the beautiful child, Skye Crawford ("A girl named Skye," Star-Bulletin Feb. 17). Reading her story caused my eyes to well with tears. It was certainly a reality check. My concerns as a parent pale in comparison to what her parents are having to endure. Her story reminds us that we must count our blessings and appreciate our children and be grateful that they are healthy. My prayers and best wishes to Skye and her family.

LaJoy Hanohano
Ewa Beach

Theresa Tanner's life is inspiration to us all

Just when you have about given up on the youth in America, along comes the Feb. 12 Student Union column in the Star-Bulletin by Theresa Tanner. Her story is the most heart-warming I have read in years. She was a handicapped orphan in China, adopted and brought to this country and is now in high school in Honolulu.

Her positive outlook and gratitude for the turn of events that brought her here to benefit from the education and opportunities in a free society is inspiring.

That young woman is going far and will serve as a perfect role model for others to follow. My congratulations to her adoptive parents, who have raised a beautiful young woman we can all be proud of.

James V. Pollock

Hawaii Dem caucuses are well-kept secret

Since the Iowa caucuses, Hawaii has been kept apprised of caucuses and primaries in other states. Most people in Hawaii have an idea who is running for president, but so far, the election process hasn't come here ... yet.

Hawaii has a presidential preference poll on Tuesday from 7-7:30 p.m. at various school cafeterias around the island, but few people seem to know this.

Is everyone in Hawaii content with George W. Bush as president? If people want a change in administration, if they really want to make a difference, they should contact the Democratic Party of Hawaii at 596-2980 to find out where to vote.

Patricia Shields




Can you design a quarter that represents Hawaii??

Some states have issued collectible quarters that commemorate their entry into the union. The front of the coin looks the same but the eagle on the back has been replaced by something that represents that state. For example, Georgia's quarter has a peach on it. If you could design Hawaii's quarter, what would it look like?

Send your ideas and solutions by Feb. 17 to:

Or mail them to:
c/o Nancy Christenson
500 Ala Moana
7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

c/o Nancy Christenson


How to write us

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

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