Lawmakers defer aid in dying bill, say further discussion needed

A measure to allow terminally ill people an option to peacefully end their suffering will not move forward.

On Thursday, the House Health committee deferred Senate Bill 1129 that would have allowed medical aid in dying.

The deferral effectively kills the measure for this legislative session.

Dozens of community members on both sides of the issues testified before the committee.

Several committee members said there were problems with the details in the bill, which need further discussion and input from healthcare providers and government regulators.

“Our community is divided on this issue. Our job is to consider a full range of policy options and consequences, and base our decisions on data and evidence,” said committee chair Rep. Della Au Belatti. “We must balance the right to choose with protecting those who are most vulnerable. There must be a broader discussion about safeguards and oversight to this ‘aid in dying’ proposal.”

“I was concerned with the bill because of issues with death certificate accuracy, no mandate that the medication be taken in a controlled environment with a witness, lack of enforcement, and no definition for ‘self-administration,’” said Tupola. “The level of education on this issue was heightened because of many experts, and I’m grateful for their insight.”

Compassion and Choices Hawaii spearheaded a movement to push the bill through.

Campaign manager Mary Steiner said, “We are deeply disappointed that the bill did not advance further today, but we remain confident that the will of the people of Hawaii, who so strongly support medical aid in dying, will soon prevail. The decades-long effort to enact medical aid in dying legislation as an option for terminally ill kama‘aina to peacefully end unbearable suffering will only gain strength here as we witness its long-term track record of safe practice and improved end-of-life care in other jurisdictions.”

Currently, six states have legalized aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, California, and Colorado.

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