The Hawaii House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the state Tuesday, moving Hawaii one step closer to a short list of states that allow doctors to legally help patients kill themselves.
HB 2739 — passed by the House Tuesday and received by the Senate Thursday — is also known as the “Death With Dignity” Act and allows terminally ill patients older than 18 to request a fatal dosage of medication.
The act determines a person as terminally ill if they are not expected to live more than six months. The bill claims patients who want to kill themselves with medication have to make an oral request for the drug, a written request, and a second oral request to confirm they have not changed their mind about the decision to kill themselves.
“[Americans United For Life] is committed to fighting to protect vulnerable people groups from the harms of assisted suicide, and we will continue to educate Hawaiian legislators on those harms as the legislation moves to the Senate,” Americans United For Life President Catherine Glenn Foster said in a press release.
The Senate’s acceptance of the bill comes after Hawaii’s House Health and Human Services Committee voted to approve the bill last Wednesday in a lackluster and insufficient process, according to Republican state Rep. Andria Tupola. “The way this bill was hustled through sight unseen is an example of the dysfunction of the legislature,” Tupola wrote. “We were asked to vote without our members having seen a written draft of the revised bill. I literally had nothing in front of me on which to vote.” (RELATED: Hawaii House Approves Bill Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide)
Massachusetts is moving to legalize physician-assisted suicide through House Bill 1194, and may soon see assisted suicide become legal in the state. (RELATED: Massachusetts Might Legalize Assisted Suicide, And It Could Turn America Into The Netherlands)
California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington also permit physician-assisted suicide. Washington, D.C., adopted the Death with Dignity Act in July 2017.
If the Hawaii legislation is signed into law, Hawaii would be the sixth state, along with the District of Columbia, to endorse assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide in the Netherlands is legal for anyone who suffers from physical or mental illness and has an advanced directive or has received parental consent if younger than 16. Minors can request euthanasia as young as 12. The law states parents must be involved in the decision-making processes of 16- and 17-year-old people, but it does not require parental consent. Those who desire assisted suicide must express an earnest conviction that they see euthanasia as their only escape and obtain a doctor’s signature.