Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i applauds the Hawai‘i House Health & Human Services (HHS) and Judiciary (JUD) Committees for their overwhelming 4 to 1 vote (HHS) and 7 to 1 vote (JUD) today to approve medical aid-in-dying legislation, “Our Care, Our Choice Act,” HB2739, for full House consideration following a joint public hearing on the bill on Monday.
“Terminally ill kama‘aina who have six months or less to live cannot wait any longer to access this option,” said Aubrey Hawk, communications officer for Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i. “We look forward to working with the legislature to expand end-of-life care options for terminally ill kama‘aina to give them and their families peace of mind.”
Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable individual who has a prognosis of six months or less to live requests, obtains and—if his or her suffering becomes unbearable—self-ingests medication to die peacefully in their sleep.
Hundreds of supporters crowded the auditorium at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass the Our Care, Our Choice Act. HB2739 now faces a floor vote and then moves to a third reading before crossover to the Senate.
Health & Human Services Chair John Mizuno said, “This issue is a matter of providing people with a choice and everyone should be able to make this decision for themselves. For people who decide they want this option there will be proper safeguards in place to protect everyone involved and prevent any possible abuse.”
Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i applauded Governor David Ige’s statement to the committee in favor of medical aid-in-dying legislation.
“It’s time for this bill to become law’” Gov. Ige said. “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.”
In addition to Gov. Ige, Hawaii’s four previous Democratic governors have publicly endorsed medical aid in dying, as have more than 30 organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hawai‘i, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Hawai‘i, and Hawai‘i State AFL-CIO.
The people of Hawai‘i have been striving to gain access to a medical aid-in-dying option for more than 20 years, and C&C Hawai‘i has built a larger-than-ever base of grassroots support. A 2016 poll (click here for full Hawai‘i polling data) shows 80 percent of Hawai‘i voters support a medical aid in dying law, and the issue has been gaining a groundswell of support among medical and interfaith groups.
The Reverend John Heidel (ret.) testified on behalf of his fellow Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i members.
“We respect the right of competent adults to make their own decisions concerning end of life choices according to their own beliefs and values,” Rev. Heidel testified. “I do not believe it is up to me, or any other religious leader, to dictate how this final, intimate decision between a dying person and his or her God should be made. Instead, we must support and accept such decisions even if they do not represent the course we ourselves might choose; this is the meaning of freedom of choice and mutual respect.”