Hawaii retirement home clarifies assisted suicide rules

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii retirement home said Tuesday residents in its independent living wing may take advantage of the state’s new medically assisted suicide law if they wish.

But Kahala Nui told residents in a memorandum this week that those in its assisted living and nursing center may not do so.

Kahala Nui CEO Pat Duarte said the new measure allows health care facilities to determine whether they want to participate in provisions of the law. Kahala Nui’s health center won’t participate, he said.

A lease Kahala Nui has with the Roman Catholic Church prohibits the home from assisting, promoting or coordinating medically assisted suicide, he said.

The statement comes after the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this month demanded that Kahala Nui stop discriminating against non-Catholic residents and allow them to take advantage of the law if they wish.

The ACLU of Hawaii issued its demand after receiving an anonymous tip that Kahala Nui had notified its residents that they would not be permitted to exercise provisions of the law.

Joshua Wisch, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement he was encouraged that Kahala Nui had informed its independent living residents that they could take advantage of the law. Other parts of the home’s response require “further review and our legal staff is currently studying them,” he said.

Hawaii became the sixth state to legalize medically assisted suicide in April when Gov. David Ige signed the legislation into law.

The law allows doctors to fulfill requests from terminally ill patients for prescription medication that will allow them to die. It takes effect in January.

Kahala Nui is a retirement home in the upscale Kahala neighborhood of Honolulu. Its independent living wing has about 350 residents. Its health center has 60 nursing beds, 22 memory support units and 41 assisted living units.