The House Health and Human Services and Judiciary Committees are scheduled to hold a joint public hearing next week on proposed legislation that would allow terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to end their lives with prescription medication.
“The Legislature concludes that adult, terminally ill residents of the state should have the fundamental right to determine their own medical treatment as they near the end of life, including the right to choose to avoid an unnecessarily prolonged life of pain and suffering,” House Bill 2739 says.
The joint hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the state Capitol auditorium.
Under the bill, a terminally ill patient would need to submit two oral requests a minimum of 15 days apart and one written request for a lethal prescription to the physician or advanced practice registered nurse providing them care.
The written request would need to be signed and dated by the patient and at least two witnesses who can attest to the best of their knowledge and belief that the patient is of sound mind, acting voluntarily and is not being coerced. A patient would have the right to rescind a request at any time and in any manner without regard to their mental state.
Legalizing medically assisted death has proved divisive here.
Last legislative session, a bill that was a top priority for the Democratic Party passed out of the Senate but was later tabled by the House Health Committee, which cited too many issues with the bill to work out. The measure was strongly opposed by religious and disability rights groups.
Until last year it had been 15 years since the state Legislature had seriously debated allowing medically assisted death. In 2002 Hawaii came within three Senate votes of passing a bill that had gained approval in the House.