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Kahala retirement home says some residents can take advantage of medically assisted death law

Kahala Nui retirement community has sent a clarification to its independent-living residents saying that they can indeed take advantage of a new law allowing the terminally ill to obtain medication to end their life.

ACLU Foundation of Hawai‘i and the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief had accused the Kahala facility of violating the federal Fair Housing Act and Hawaii law by forbidding its residents from participating in the state’s medical-aid-in-dying law, set to go into effect Jan. 1.

The ACLU had obtained a May memo from the home saying it is “not an option” for all residents, citing the facility’s ground lease from the Catholic Church which forbids “any use or activity … morally repugnant to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Honolulu or inconsistent with the doctrines and teaching of the Church.”

On Monday, however, Kahala Nui sent a memo to its residents clarifying the original notice. The new memo says independent-living residents can do what they want, while those living in the community’s Hi‘olani Care Center are still prohibited from taking advantage of the new law

The Malia Street complex is owned by the not-for-profit Kahala Senior Living Community Inc. and features 270 independent-living apartments and the Hi‘olani Care Center with 41 assisted-living units, 22 memory-support apartments and 60 nursing home beds.

Hawaii’s assisted-death statute, modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, gives terminally ill patients the choice to obtain a prescription medication to end the patient’s life. The Hawaii bill was signed by Gov. David Ige in April.

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