Hawaii became the last of the liberal state to legalize the drug suicide Thursday as the Governor signed the measure into law, allowing doctors to comply with the requests of terminally ill patients prescribe life-ending medication.
“The time has come for terminally ill, mentally competent residents of Hawaii who are suffering, to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace,” Governor David IgE said.
IgE said the law was written that the patient was in full control and it offers only one option available for end-of-life care, knowing that suicide is not for everyone.
“But we know that we have reached the point in our community that it makes sense to give the patient the choice to request the Drug, to obtain it and take it, or eventually change their minds,” said the Governor.
Hawaii is heavily democratic lawmakers approved legislation late last month. The state joins California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the district of Columbia in allowing the practice.
Critics say they are concerned that option will lead to hasty decisions, incorrect diagnosis, and the waning support of palliative care in which a dying person may be sedated to relieve suffering.
The act establishes safeguards to prevent abuse. Two medical staff are needed to confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, ability to make decisions and that the petition is voluntary.
The consultant also should determine that the patient is not suffering from conditions that can interfere in the decision-making process, such as the lack of treatment of depression.
The patient must make two oral requests for life-ending medication, with the 20-day waiting period between them, and to sign a written statement in the presence of two persons, one of whom cannot be a relative.
Criminal penalties will apply to those who violate a request or coerces a prescription for life-ending medication.
“The time was right for Hawaii to adopt this law,” said peg Sandeen, Executive Director of the National center death with dignity, a nonprofit advocacy group. “On guarantees of the state of Hawaii legislature passed this law will ensure that patients are not in control of this process and to make their own decisions at every step — that is their right.”
Allowing medical of death was a controversial issue in Hawaii. Last year a similar event took place in the state Senate, but was later presented in the house.