(HONOLULU) The House Health Committee today deferred SB 1129, Hawaii’s Medical Aid in Dying Act. Following is a statement from Mary Steiner, campaign manager, Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i:
“We are deeply disappointed that the bill did not advance further today, but we remain confident that the will of the people of Hawai‘i, who so strongly support medical aid in dying, will soon prevail. The decades-long effort to enact medical aid in dying legislation as an option for terminally ill kama‘aina to peacefully end unbearable suffering will only gain strength here as we witness its long-term track record of safe practice and improved end-of-life care in other jurisdictions.”
Courageous people living with terminal illnesses attended hearings and told their personal stories, urging lawmakers to pass the bill so they could have the option of medical aid in dying if and when no other treatment provides relief for their unbearable suffering.Hundreds more have visited their legislators, submitted testimony and opinion pieces and called into radio programs to make sure their voices were heard in support of medical aid in dying.
An Anthology Research Group survey conducted in November 2016 showed broad and deep support for medical aid in dying. Eighty percent of Hawai‘i residents believe medical aid in dying should be a legal option for terminally ill individuals who are over the age of 18, have less than six months to live and are deemed mentally capable by medical experts. After more than 20 years of local grassroots efforts, the issue in recent years has been gaining a groundswell of support among medical and interfaith groups, including from the Hawai‘i Medical Association who switched its long-standing opposition to medical aid in dying and recently adopted a neutral stance.