The Hawaii Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill [text] that would legalize medically assisted death for terminally ill patients.
The bill applies to patients with less than six months to live. It would allow patients to obtain a medical prescription to assist their passing. Only residents of Hawaii would be eligible.
The bill would require that two medical care providers agree on the patient’s terminal medical condition. The two healthcare providers would be charged with assessing the patient’s mental soundness and capacity to make such a decision. If two doctors agree on the patient’s medical condition, a mental health professional will be required to make sure the patient is not suffering from any mental conditions or states of mind, such as depression, that might affect the patient’s ability to make an informed decision.
The bill also prescribes criminal penalties for anyone who interferes, tampers with or coerces a patient to seek this procedure. No medical provider nor healthcare facility will be held criminally liable for participating in such processes. Medical care providers are also given the option to refuse to participate. In such situations, the patient would have to be transferred to another medical care provider.
The bill passed the state’s House of Representatives on March 6. The bill has now been sent to the governor’s desk, where it currently awaits signature. Currently, five states (Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont and Colorado) and Washington, DC, have laws permitting medically assisted death.