Medical aid in dying measure advances

A bill that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain medical assistance with ending their lives advanced Tuesday at the state Capitol in Honolulu.

House Bill 2739, otherwise known as the Our Care, Our Choice Act, now will go before the Senate after lawmakers in the House voted 42-9 in favor of the measure.

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The bill allows mentally capable adults who have been determined to have no more than six months to live to obtain a prescription for a medication that would painlessly end their lives.

The measure’s latest version includes additional safeguards from abuse or mismanagement, with patients required to submit two oral requests for the prescription 20 days apart — an earlier draft specified 15 days — removing the authority of “advanced practiced registered nurses” to prescribe such medication, requiring counseling for all qualified patients and more.

The bill highlights a contentious issue. More than 1,300 pages of testimony were presented during a hearing last week, with hundreds of residents and organizations voicing their support or opposition.

“For me, it’s an issue of personal freedom and liberty,” said Rep. Chris Todd, D-Hilo, who co-sponsored the bill. “My perspective is that we shouldn’t restrict individual choice unless we can prove it’s harmful to society. This is a choice that only affects one person.”

Todd, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last fall before undergoing an orchiectomy, said he was recently forced to confront his own mortality.

“It got me thinking about my own dignity at the end of life,” he said. “It’s easy to have empathy for people who have to make that decision.”

“If I or a loved one is suffering, I wouldn’t want either of us to be forced to continue to suffer,” Todd said.

Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit organization devoted to end-of-life-issues, praised the advancement of the bill.

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“Hawaii residents overwhelmingly support expanding end-of-life care options,” said Aubrey Hawk, communications officer of Compassion and Choices Hawaii. “While most terminally ill will never opt for medical aid in dying, they want the option because it provides comfort to those in the end stages of a terminal disease knowing that if their suffering becomes unbearable they can use this option to die peacefully in their sleep. By advancing the Our Care, Our Choice Act, the House has shown a commitment to improving end-of-life care for all kamaaina because these laws spur people to discuss all their end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, and to utilize them more effectively.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com

  1. Bradley Williams March 7, 2018 11:16 am

    Yes you may like the concept of assisted suicide/euthanasia but the administration of the non-transparent laws in OR, WA, CA and CO brightly provide immunity for predators (corporations, strangers, caregivers, heirs, guardians…) to complete the killing all before the family knows. The safeguards are hollow and unenforceable .A simple reading of the laws confirms this to be true. I am not for that. Are you?? For more investigative reports mtaas org. Resisting saves lives everyday.
    Bill 2739 is even more dangerous by allowing active euthanasia.


    1. Hilo Jack March 7, 2018 12:15 pm

      No they don’t.

      Your continued comments are hyperbole at best, sheer lunacy at worst

      Again. Once more. Right to life has to be much much more than protecting an unborn fetus and saying “no” to the terminally ill.


      1. Bradley Williams March 7, 2018 1:20 pm

        Specifically active euthanasia is allowed (page 30 line 16 and page 33 line 8&9) which makes this the most unsafe and subject to abuse of all the states, counter to the author’s claim. Read it for yourself.


        1. Hilo Jack March 7, 2018 2:24 pm

          Does not say that at all.

          Why do you keep saying the wrong things over and over and over?

          Why do you ignore the main part that says:

          “Mentally capable adults”?

          Everything after those words as you state are out of context.

          I know you would love to see people withering and dying slow painful deaths because that’s what you think your “god” wants but please for once get serious and get real.

          Hyperbole at best. Lunacy at worst.


          1. Bradley Williams March 7, 2018 2:42 pm

            Those are the original page and line numbers before the admendments. But I give in, no more specific details for you.


          2. Hilo Jack March 7, 2018 2:56 pm

            No need for you to speak any further.

            All you desire to do is ignore the entire whole and pick apart one sentence totally and completely out of context.

            You are the problem here. Not anywhere near a solution.


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