Hawaii governor signs aid in dying legislation

Hawaii governor signs aid in dying legislation

[JURIST] Hawaii Governor David Ige [official profile] signed HB 2739 [text, PDF] on Thursday, also known as the Our Choice, Our Care Act. This bill will allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to people with terminal illnesses who are deemed to have six months or less to live.

The bill has strict requirements before the drugs can be prescribed. Two doctors must confirm the six-month life expectancy, the patient must administer the medication, and a mental health provider must confirm the patient’s capacity. Doctors must inform patients about all end-of-life care options. The bill also criminalizes interfering with the patient’s prescription or coercing the patient into obtaining the drugs.

Ige said [press release]:

I believe that we have clear safeguards in place. It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawai’i residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace. I am honored to sign HB 2739 into law, in hopes of giving these patients and their families choices and peace of mind.

Hawaii’s Department of Health will begin to implement the new law through an Advisory Committee.

The right to die has been a contentious issue in the US. Last September New York’s highest court ruled [JURIST report] against physician assisted suicide. Earlier in 2017 the House committee blocked [JURIST report] DC’s Death with Dignity Act. That same year Montana introduced [JURIST report] a bill that would allow homicide charges to be brought against doctors engaged in physician-assisted suicide and would run against the current policy that allows life-ending options. In May the Nevada Senate approved [JURIST report] a physician aid-in-dying bill.