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Death With Dignity Bill Passes Key Hurdle

Hawai‘i House lawmakers voted to legally permit medically aided death in Hawai‘i this afternoon, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, after an emotional floor debate in which lawmakers recalled their own family members who suffered before they died

Nine Democrats and three Republicans in the 51-member House opposed the bill.

House Bill 2739 would allow patients with less than six months to request prescriptions for lethal doses of medication.

The measure now goes to the state Senate, where it is expected to win approval.

House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman John Mizuno contends House Bill 2739 has the strongest safeguards to prevent abuse of any state. Five states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical aid in dying, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Under the procedures in the bill, patients would be required to submit two verbal requests a minimum of 20 days apart and one written request to their attending physicians for a prescription.

The written request would have to be signed by two witnesses who can attest the patient is of sound mind, and is acting voluntarily. One of the witnesses cannot be a relative and one witness cannot be someone who stands to inherit anything upon the patient’s death.

The bill also requires counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker after two physicians confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and competence.

Hawaii Death With Dignity Bill Killed

The House Health Committee today deferred Senate Bill 1129, the medical aid in dying bill, effectively killing the measure for this session.

In announcing the decision, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Chair of the House Health Committee, said this was not the time to move the “aid in dying” bill forward.

“Our community is divided on this issue. Our job is to consider a full range of policy options and consequences, and base our decisions on data and evidence,” Belatti said. “We must balance the right to choose with protecting those who are most vulnerable. There must be a broader discussion about safeguards and oversight to this ‘aid in dying’ proposal.”

SB 1129 SD2 would establish a medical aid in dying act that establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may obtain a prescription for medication to be self-administered to end the patient’s life.

Dozens of community members on both sides of the issues testified before the committee.

Several committee members said there were problems with the details in Senate Bill 1129 and the issues needs more discussion and input from healthcare providers and government regulators.

Currently, six states have legalized aid in dying — Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Montana, and Vermont.

Death With Dignity Bill Killed by Judiciary

Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu has decided not to hear Death with Dignity bill this year, but open to do so in future.

House Bill 587
Measure Title: RELATING TO DEATH WITH DIGNITY.
Report Title: Death With Dignity
Description: Allows a terminally ill, competent adult to get lethal dose of medication to end life. Prohibits mercy killings, lethal injections, and active euthanasia. Requires informed consent. Allows alternate doctor to replace attending doctor if latter declines to prescribe. Requires monitor at time of taking dose.