- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2018

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed legislation on Thursday to make the island state the eighth U.S. jurisdiction where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

The Our Choice, Our Care Act was written “to ensure that the patient is in full control,” the governor said, and will give terminally ill Hawaiians “choices and peace of mind” at the end of their lives.

“When I think about this law, it is impossible not to think of friends and family who have struggled through a difficult prognosis,” said Mr. Ige, a Democrat. “We know that our loved ones will eventually die, but they don’t need to suffer.”

Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide when voters approved a ballot measure in 1994.

Four additional states — California, Colorado, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia have since passed legislation permitting the practice. The Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that that aid in dying is legal there.

The Hawaii legislation is modeled after the law in Oregon. It allows doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients who are mentally competent and have a prognosis of six months or less to live.

Two doctors must confirm the terminal diagnosis. The patient must make two separate requests for life-ending drugs, with a 20-day waiting period between the first and second request.

Matt Valliere, executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which opposes assisted suicide, said it’s a “tragic day for all Hawaiians.” He said the bill lacks sufficient safeguards to protect the poor, elderly and disabled from coercion and abuse.

“For them, the ‘right’ to die will quickly become a duty to die because of a lack resources or the need for expensive health care,” Mr. Valliere said in a statement. “This public policy is unfair to the most vulnerable members of society who instead deserve our support and protection.”

Kat West, national director of policy and programs for Compassion & Choices, which advocates aid in dying, said the law should be implemented speedily.

“There are terminally ill people in Hawai’i right now who need this law,” Ms. West said in a statement, “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.”

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