Hawaiʻi residents have been working to authorize medical aid in dying in the Aloha State for nearly two decades, and Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i has built a large base of grassroots support. Over the past several years we’ve explored a variety of legal and legislative strategies to expand end-of-life choice and authorize medical aid in dying.
Our team included public relations experts, top lobbyists, pro bono attorneys, grassroots organizers and hundreds of volunteers and advocates. We worked closely with bill sponsors to review the legislation, filed a lawsuit to authorize medical aid in dying, gathered petitions, generated a constant drumbeat of media coverage and reached out to key health organizations. The Our Care, Our Choice bill was passed by veto-proof margins in both houses of the legislature.
The Our Care, Our Choice Act authorizes the practice of medical aid in dying, in which terminally ill, mentally capable adults, with six months or less to live, can request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could decide to take in their final days or weeks to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019.
After nearly 20 years of on-the-ground organizing, the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed the Our Care, Our Choice Act in 2018. Governor David Ige signed the measure on April 5, 2018.
On July 15, 2017, a state judge decided to dismiss a case (brought forward by Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing and Compassion & Choices on behalf of a Hawaiʻi resident with terminal cancer, John Radcliffe) that seeks to clarify that the Hawai‘i constitution and existing state law allow the practice of medical aid in dying. Plaintiff John Radcliffe appealed the court’s decision.