The “Death with Dignity” legislation was signed into law in Hawai’i today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
Hawai’i joined seven other states to offer terminally ill adults the option of obtaining lethal doses of prescription drugs to end their lives. Before signing the measure into law, Governor David Ige, said the issue has been discussed for more than 20 years but the final bill puts the patient in charge.
“When I think about this law, it’s impossible not to think of friends and family that have struggled through a difficult prognosis. We know our loved ones will eventually die but they don’t need to suffer.”
Patient safeguards include medical and mental health verifications, disinterested witnesses, and patient self-administration of drugs. Opponents of medically assisted suicide delivered 18-thousand signatures to the Governor earlier this week. Retired lobbyist and terminal cancer patient, John Radcliffe, was the voice of Our Care, Our Choice and singled out one lawmaker who he says led the charge.
“The Hawai’i State Legislature has done its job. The Governor has walked the walk. But for me, personally, for all of us, Roslyn Baker is owed a deep sense of thanks and a new nickname. Senator Merciful (laughter) And that is new.”
Senator Roz Baker, chair of the Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee, responded to Radcliffe.
“He was one of the reasons that I agonized so much over this. ‘Cause I’m afraid he’s gonna use it. And he’s been such a good friend. But I think all of us need to have that choice. It’s the compassionate thing to do.”
Act Two becomes law on January 1st, 2019. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.