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Gov. Ige signs bill legalizing medical aid in dying

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Gov. David Ige signs House Bill 2739, making Hawaii the seventh jurisdiction to offer an end-of-life choice. The law was modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. To the right of Gov. Ige is lobbyist John Radcliffe, a cancer patient who first filed the right-to-die suit.

Beginning Jan. 1, terminally ill residents will be eligible to begin requesting prescriptions for life-ending medication, following Gov. David Ige’s signing today of the “Our Care, Our Choice” Act into law.

The law caps a decades-long debate to legalize medical aid in dying here.

Under the law, mentally competent adult residents, who have been given six months or less to live, will be able to request lethal prescriptions to be self-administered.

“It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawaii residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace,” Ige said.

“What this is about is … it’s a choice that an individual can make so that they are able to think about how they want to live the rest of their life,” said House Majority Floor Leader Della Au Belatti, who helped author the bill. “It is a bill not simply about the choice to die.”

Hawaii becomes the seventh jurisdiction to legalize medical aid in dying, joining California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state and the District of Columbia.

In initial public hearings on the measure, lawmakers heard from supporters and opponents of the controversial practice.

Many supporters asserted that individuals of sound mind should have the option to end their lives peacefully and with dignity rather than suffer from crippling illnesses. Opponents argued that life should be respected and said pain relief is already available through hospice and palliative care.

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