Hawaii governor to decide on legal physician-assisted suicide

A lone paddle boarder fronts the warm winter glow of the sunset off Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. On Thursday, the Hawaii Senate passed a measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide and sent it to Gov. David Ige's desk for approval. File Photo by Cory Lum/UPI

March 31 (UPI) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige must decide whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide, after the state legislature approved putting it on the books.

The Hawaii Senate approved the measure Thursday, 23-2, which would make the islands the sixth state in the United States to legalize the practice.

Under the bill, adults in Hawaii “with a medically confirmed terminal disease and less than six months to live may choose to obtain a prescription for medication” to end their life. Criminal sanctions will also be imposed on anyone who tampers with a patient’s request for a prescription or coerces a patient to request a prescription.

The law, which would take effect next year, now awaits Ige’s signature. He has already said he supports the measure.

Before the vote, state Sen. Breene Harimoto, who was diagnosed in 2015 with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, voiced opposition to the bill.

“My faith in God, prayers and a sense of hope got me through this. I feel so strongly that we must always have hope and never give up,” Harimoto said, adding that he thanked God for the opportunity to be able to cast his “no” vote.

Sen. Mike Gabbard, who also voted against the measure, said the bill could open “the door to normalizing other types of suicides.”

Other state senators disagreed.

“There is no reason to deny others the freedom to live and die as we choose,” Sen. Russell Ruderman said.

Sen. Josh Green, who worked as an emergency room physician, said although he is sworn as a doctor to do no harm, he felt obligated to do what he could to alleviate patient suffering.

Death with Dignity, a nonprofit organization that advocates for medical aid-in-dying laws, tweeted that the vote marked “Victory in Hawaii!!!.”

Gallup poll last year showed nearly three-quarters of Americans support the practice of patient euthanasia, if a patient wants it.


  1. not make it so. This bill was full of political double speak that deceives the public. It should be held to the same business standards as false advertising that we all abide by.
    Hawaii 2018 H.B.NO. 2739 perpetuates the lie of self administration with no witness to the administration to honor our choice.
    This bill leads and uses double speak through out. Countering the first statement it should say that over 20 states have rejected this in 2017-18.
    Allowing an heir to be one of the witnesses in the sign up process eviscerates flaunted safeguards.
    “These rigorous safeguards…” are unenforceable.
    “The lie of Self administered” is mentioned 11 times is used to deflect normal scrutiny while the provision to have an ordinary witness to the administration is missing.
    Specifically active euthanasia is allowed (page 30 line 16 and page 33 line 8&9) which makes this the most unsafe and subject to abuse of all the states, counter to the author’s claim.
    Again like previous offerings this process can start and end in death in 16 days, all before the rest of the family learns. Immunity for predatory corporations, heirs, strangers, guardians, care givers…. is immediate and records are prohibited to be used in investigations.
    Governor Reject this hollow state sanctioned suicide and euthanasia bill. Political double speak should be held accountable to the same standards as false advertising which we all live by.
    Bradley Williams
    President MTaas org
    PS: the page and line numbers are before amendments.


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