Hawai‘i Makes Eight!

April 23, 2018

After 20 years of diligent campaigning by C&C and local advocates, Hawai‘i joins seven other U.S. jurisdictions to pass a medical aid-in-dying law.

Compassion & Choices and hundreds of dedicated advocates achieved another momentous victory on April 5 when Governor David Ige signed HB 2739, the Our Care, Our Choice Act, authorizing medical aid in dying in the state of Hawai‘i. Advocates for medical aid in dying had tried to pass legislation in the state for two decades before the Hawai‘i Legislature approved the bill last month by a veto-proof margin (39–12 in the House and 23–2 in the Senate). The law goes into effect after nine months, on January 1, 2019.

“This legislation has been written to ensure that the patient is in full control,” Ige said. “When I think about this law it is impossible not to think of friends and family who have struggled through a difficult prognosis … We know that our loved ones will eventually die, but they don’t need to suffer.”

“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.”

“I am grateful that I have lived to see this day, and I salute Gov. Ige, our lawmakers, other advocates, volunteers and allied organizations for their work throughout the years to finally bring this option to Hawai‘i,” said John Radcliffe, who has stage 4 terminal colon cancer that has metastasized to his liver. “I, along with the overwhelming majority of people in Hawai‘i, want this end-of-life care option to ensure I do not have to suffer needlessly in my last months, weeks or days of life.”

Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i will now spearhead a volunteer-led Access Campaign, similar to those launched in other authorized states including California and Colorado, to educate providers and the public, and ensure terminally ill adults in Hawai‘i can actually use the law. But early signs are positive, with a number of health systems and hospices already on board.

“The Access Campaign is built on our 20+ years of experience helping to implement medical aid-in-dying laws in the six other states that have authorized the practice,” said Kat West, Compassion & Choices national director of policy and programs. “There are terminally ill people in Hawai‘i right now who need this law, so it is urgent for doctors and healthcare systems to understand this compassionate medical practice and respect the decisions of terminally ill individuals who want this option for the comfort and peace of mind it brings to them.”

Track what’s happening in your area — or learn how to get involved — by visiting our state pages.

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