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.

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