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Milestone in Hawai‘i: Legislature Approves Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation Endorsed by Governor

Gov. Ige Expected to Sign Bill Soon

Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i today applauded the State Senate for its 23-to-2 vote to pass HB 2739, the Our Care, Our Choice Act. Gov. Ige is expected to sign the bill, which the House passed 39-12, that would authorize medical aid in dying in Hawai‘i since he already endorsed the legislation.

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 may request, obtain and—if his or her suffering becomes unbearable—self-ingest medication that brings about a peaceful death.

Today’s result represents a major milestone in the fight for medical aid in dying: with this vote, the issue has progressed further through the legislative process than ever in Hawai‘i history. HB 2739 now heads to Governor David Ige’s desk. He has until April 17 to sign it into law.

If enacted into law, the legislation would authorize medical aid in dying in Hawai‘i, making it the seventh state in the U.S. with this end-of-life care option. The other six states are California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington State. In addition, the District of Columbia also has authorized medical aid in dying.

Patient advocate John Radcliffe, who has stage 4 terminal colon cancer, said, “I am grateful that I was able to argue on behalf of suffering and dying people in Hawai`i and that this legislation will bring an end to some of it. It was one of the high honors of my life that I was allowed to argue on behalf of those same people, my peers.”

“Today is a momentous day for all Hawai`i residents, who are one step closer to having peace of mind at the end of their lives,” said Kim Callinan, Chief Executive Officer of Compassion & Choices. “We thank Senators Baker, Taniguchi, and Rhoads, and Representatives Belatti, Mizuno and Nishimoto, for championing this important legislation, as well as every lawmaker who supported the bill.”

“Over the last 25 years, so many people of Hawai‘i have been devoted to bringing a medical aid-in-dying option to our state and have not lived to see success. They would be so proud and grateful today,” said Aubrey Hawk, communications officer, C&C Hawai‘i. “Medical aid in dying is an option. It need not be exercised, but we will be a more compassionate state for making it accessible to our terminally ill kama‘aina who so desperately need it.”