HONOLULU, Hawaii — Two Hawaii House committees have advanced a controversial bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state.
The Health and Human Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee approved H.B. 2739, also known as the “Our Care, Our Choice” bill, on Wednesday. The votes were 4-1 and 7-1 respectively.
The measure allows for adult terminally ill patients ages 18 and up who have an estimated six months or less to live to request a prescription for a dosage of medication that will end their life.
The patient must make the request orally twice, within a period of no less than 20 days apart, and must also sign a written form that is witnessed by two people. A counselor must additionally attest that the patient is not suffering from depression or other factors that might influence their desire to die.
“I have been fully informed of my diagnosis, prognosis, the nature of medication to be prescribed and potential associated risks, the expected result, the possibility that I may choose not to obtain or not to use the medication, and the feasible alternatives or additional treatments, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control,” the proposed request form would read.
The form also gives the patient the option not to inform their family of the decision. They may likewise rescind the request should they change their mind about ending their life.
The patient would be responsible for taking the pill themselves instead of the administration being handled by their doctor or other health care worker. However, another person would be required to be present when the patient takes the pill and dies.
“We already have separation of Church and State. We need to have separation of government and a person’s choice to determine how they want to treat their anatomy,” Rep. John Mizuno, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, told local television station KHON. “If they only have six months left to live and they’re in excruciating, unbearable pain, who is it for government to tell them what to do?”
The only two committee members to vote against the measure were Reps. Andria Tupola, R- Waianae, and Bob McDermott, R-Ewa Beach.
“This is definitely a controversial bill and yet we were not provided with a copy of House Draft 1 or a list of amendments to the bill. Instead, the amendments were quickly read through and not repeated. How can I vote on something that I was not able to read and see how the amendments change the overall bill?” Tupola said in a statement.
“Although H.B. 2739 is purported to be the strongest legislation for physician-assisted suicide, we should be careful to guard against elder abuse and be mindful of the opioid crisis sweeping our country. We shouldn’t be voting on any bills that we haven’t fully read, especially when dealing with public safety,” she added.
The comment period, which allowed members of the public to weigh in on the matter, lasted five hours, according to KITV.
“For these people and their families, they often ask, ‘Why can’t I leave now? I’m ready to go now,'” said hospice worker Malachay Grange.
“What message are we going to give—not just [to] our children, but Hawaii, and the rest of the nation? We are supposed to be in the land of aloha; will we now be called a land of death?” asked Tarita Tehotu.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Job 14:5 also says that man’s “days are determined” by God.
“The number of his months are with Thee. Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass,” it outlines.