Hawaii Legislature passes Medical Aid in Dying

The Senate passed the Medical Aid in Dying bill today 23-2 and will now be sent to Governor Ige for his signature.

Senators Mike Gabbard and Breene Harimoto both voted against the bill. Senator Harimoto cited his faith as his reason for voting against the bill.

Four Senators voted yes with reservations, among them emergency room physician Senator Josh Green.

“Without a doubt this is the most complicated issue we have ever had before us,” said Senator Green.

Senators Kahele, Kim, and Riviere also voted yes with reservations. The bill had passed out of the House earlier this month 39-12. Four of the yes votes in the House were with reservations.

Governor Ige has already expressed his support for the bill:

“It’s time for this bill to become law. Mentally competent, terminally ill people who are in pain and who are suffering should be given the choice to end their lives with grace, dignity and peace. I would be proud and honored to sign this bill into law if our state legislators pass this measure this session.”

When signed into law, Hawaii will join five other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical aid in dying.

The bill allows:

“mentally competent adult residents who have a terminal illness [with less than six months to live] to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication that would allow the person to die in a peaceful, humane, and dignified manner.”

Patient protections in the bill include:

  • Confirmation by two health care providers of the patient’s diagnoses, prognosis, and medical competence, and the voluntariness of the patient’s request;
  • Two oral requests from the patient, separated by not less than fifteen days, and one signed written request that is witnessed by two people, one of whom must be unrelated to the patient;
  • An additional waiting period between the written request and the writing of the prescription; and
  • The creation of strict criminal penalties for any person who tampers with a person’s request for a prescription or coerces a person with a terminal illness to request a prescription.