Hundreds Testify on Medical Aid in Dying Bill

February 28, 2018, 7:45 AM HST · Updated February 28, 7:47 AM
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More than 100 people testified on a medical aid in dying bill, with an additional 600 individuals submitting written testimony during a five hour hearing yesterday.

State House of Representatives. PC: House Democrats

The item was heard before the House Health and Human Services and Judiciary committees which are scheduled to reconvene at noon today for decision making.

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House Bill 2739 titled “Our Care, Our Choice,” contains safeguards to protect a dying patient and their families, and establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may choose to obtain a prescription for medication to end their life.

The bill also imposes criminal sanctions for tampering with a patient’s request for a prescription or coercing a patient to request a prescription.  At least 30 states have either enacted or considered enacting similar aid in dying bills.

“A bill of this magnitude needs to be vetted with extreme caution to ensure there are adequate safeguards and protections in place,” said Rep. John M. Mizuno, Chair of the Health & Human Services Committee. “I felt that going over the testimony a few more times with the Chair of the Judiciary Committee along with Majority Leader and working with our legal staff as well as the administration, the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health would be prudent. By tomorrow noon we will know if we have a bill or not.”

“Our Care, Our Choice” refers to the right of people to make health choices about their body for themselves, said Rep Mizuno (Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, lower Kalihi).

Additional safeguards in the bill include:

  • Confirmation by two health care providers of the patient’s diagnoses, prognosis, and medical competence;
  • Two verbal requests from the patient, separated by not less than 15 days, and one signed written request that is witnessed by two people, one of whom must be unrelated to the patient; and
  • An additional waiting period between the written request and the writing of the prescription.
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