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Bill on medically assisted death passes preliminary vote in House

A bill to allow terminally ill patients to receive medical assistance to end their lives was approved by a wide margin in a preliminary vote in the state House today.

House Republicans attempted to amend House Bill 2739, and then tried to recommit the bill to the House Health and Human Services Committee in a maneuver aimed at blocking the measure, but were overruled in a series of voice votes on the House floor.

State Rep. Bob McDermott, (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), objected to the process used in a committee vote on the bill on Wednesday, saying none of the committee members saw the last-minute amendments to the measure until after they voted on it.

Only ten lawmakers voted against advancing the bill today, a sign that the measure will probably win a solid majority in a final House vote next week before it moves on to the state Senate.

The 51-member state House is dominated by Democrats, who hold 46 seats in the chamber. The 25-member state Senate has no Republicans.

The bill would allow patients with less than six months to live to request lethal doses of medication. The patients would need to make two verbal requests a minimum of 20 days apart and one written request to their attending physician for a prescription.

The measure also requires that the written request be witnessed by at least two people who can confirm the patient is of sound mind, is acting voluntarily and is not being coerced. The measure also calls for criminal penalties for coercing a patient to request a prescription.

Gov. David Ige has said he would sign such a bill.

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