Hawaii lawmakers today brought the medically-assisted death bill one step closer to becoming law in the Aloha State. The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to move House Bill 2739 forward which would make medically-assisted death for terminally-ill patients an option for Hawaii residents. The bill is known as the “Our Care, Our Choice” Act.
A legally-assisted death means the law would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of prescription medication. Residents who want to choose this option must be at least 18 years old and been given 6 months or less to live by a doctor.
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Two health care providers will need to confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, competence, and that the request is voluntary. Then, before any medication is prescribed, the patient would have to undergo mandatory counseling from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.
Scott Foster, co-founder of the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society, said he’s been advocating for legislation for more than 20 years. Eva Andrade, president of the Hawaii Family Forum, which works with the faith-based community and opposes the measure, described today’s committee vote as just another step in the process. Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) voted against the measure, citing concerns about government interfering in personal matters.
The full Hawaii Senate will vote on the bill early next week. Hawaii Governor David Ige supports the bill and said he would be “proud and honored” to sign it into law. If passed, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2019.