Proposal would allow terminally ill patients to end life

HONOLULU — The House Health Committee killed a bill Thursday that would have made it legal for Hawaii adults diagnosed with a terminal illness to take medication that would end their life.

Several committee members said there were problems with the details in SB 1129, which sought to enact a medical aid in dying act, and the issues need more discussion and input from healthcare providers and government regulators.

“As much as we all want compassionate end of life choices, this bill was not the answer,” said Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-16. “Many will say that there are safeguards in place, but as we were told, it lacks clinical implementation. Hawaii’s healthcare community is not prepared for medical aid in dying and we need to assure that the vulnerable are protected.”

Morikawa, who sits on the Health Committee, speaks from experience.

“Both of my parents died from cancer, and I know that there were times that they wanted to give up, but the little precious time they had, they spent with us and the grandchildren,” she said.

Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-24, said now is not the time to move the “aid in dying” bill forward.

“Our community is divided on this issue. Our job is to consider a full range of policy options and consequences, and base our decisions on data and evidence,” said Belatti, chair of the Health Committee.

SB 1129 was unanimously passed by the Senate on March 7.

Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Montana and Vermont have legalized aid in dying measures.

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