With the Governor’s signature on 5 April 2018, Hawaii has given terminally ill patients the option to request medication that could end their lives. The new law, known as the Our Care, Our Choice Act, was passed by The Hawaii State Senate with a 23-2 vote on March 29, 2018. The law takes effect 1 Jan 2019.
Hawaii is now the seventh U.S. state and the eighth U.S. jurisdiction to legalise physician-assisted dying. It is also legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, Colorado and California, as well as in Washington D.C.
Like other legislation passed in other states, Hawaii’s Our Care, Our Choice Act has safeguards to prevent abuse:
- Patients eligible for this option must be 18 or older and have less than six months to live.
- Two health care providers are required to confirm a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, ability to make decisions and that the request is voluntary.
- Physicians must tell patients who are considering this option about all of the other options that do not involve assisted suicide.
- Physicians are also required to let patients know that they are allowed to back out at any time after they are given a prescription for the medication that would end their lives.
- A counselor also must determine that the patient isn’t suffering from conditions that may interfere with decision-making, such as a lack of treatment of depression.
- The patient must make two oral requests for the life-ending medication, with a 20-day waiting period in between, and sign a written request witnessed by two people, one of whom cannot be a relative.
- Criminal penalties will apply to anyone who tampers with a request or coerces a prescription for life-ending medication.
See the Huffington Post article 7 April 2018 ‘Hawaii Becomes The 7th State To Legalize Medically Assisted Suicide‘
See the Daily News article from 6 April 2018 ‘Hawaii becomes next state to make medically assisted suicide legal‘
Campassion & Choices Hawaii campaigners on 17 March 2018 after HB 2739 Medical Aid in Dying passed The Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee ( 6-0 in favour of the measure after hearing about two hours of public testimony in favor and against the bill)