No fewer than five bills related to assisted dying (three in the House and two in the Senate, all introduced on January 19, 2017) are pending in the Hawai‘i state legislature.
SB 1129, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Act, sponsored by Hawai‘i State Senators Karl Rhoads (D-Oahu), Lorraine Inouye (D-Hilo), Michelle Kidani (D-District 18), and Russell Ruderman (D-Puna) resembles the Oregon Death with Dignity Act most closely.
The bill received its first hearing, in the Hawai‘i State Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health, on February 15, where it passed with amendments on a 6 to 0 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee where a public decision making will take place on February 28.
Organizations that submitted testimony in support of SB 1129 for the February 15 hearing included:
- Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (LGBT Caucus, Kapuna Caucus, Women’s Caucus)
- International Longshore and Warehouse Union
- Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i
- Life of Land
- Rainbow Family 808
- First Unitarian Church HNL
- Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities
- Hawai‘i Psychological Association
- Nursing Advocates and Mentors
- Hawai‘i Assoc for Justice
- Filipino American Advocacy Network
- Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights
- Americans for Democratic Action
- Hawai‘i Advocates for Consumer Rights
The Hawaii Medical Association has stated it would not oppose any assisted dying legislation this session.
The other bills are, in the Senate:
- SB 357, Hawai‘i Patient Choice at End of Life Act, sponsored by Hawai‘i State Senators Lorraine Inouye (D-Hilo), Les Ihara (D-District 10), Karl Rhoads (D-Oahu), Russell Ruderman (D-Puna), Glenn Wakai (D-District 15), Brickwood Galuteria (D-District 12), and Brian Taniguchi (D-District 11).
In the House:
- HB 201, Hawai‘i Patient Choice at End of Life Act, sponsored by Hawai‘i State Representatives Joseph Souki (D-District 8), Jarrett Keohokalole (D-District 48), Sylvia Luke (D-District 25), Angus McKelvey (D-District 10), Scott Nishimoto (D-District 21), and Scott Saiki (D-District 26).
- HB 150, Hawai‘i End of Life Option Act, sponsored by Hawai‘i State Representative Gregg Takayama (D-District 34).
- HB 550, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Act, sponsored by State Representatives Ken Ito (D-District 49) and Calvin Say (D-District 20).
Efforts to pass a Death with Dignity law in Hawai‘i date back almost two decades.
A physician-assisted dying bill was considered in the following sessions:
- 2001 (HB 2491 / SB2749, SB 709)
- 2002 (HB 2487 / SB 2745) – This session was the closest a bill came to passage, falling short in the state Senate by mere three votes.
- 2003-2004 (HB 862 / SB 391)
- 2005-2006 (HB 1454 / SB 1308)
- 2007-2008 (HB 675 / SB 800, SB 1995)
- 2009-2010 (HB 587, HB 806 / SB 1159)
- 2011-2012 (SB 803 / HB 1383 & HB 1165)
- 2013-2014 (HB 606)
- 2015-2016 (HB 1255 / SB 2373) – Senators Lorraine Inouye (D-District 4), Donovan Dela Cruz (D-District 22), Russell Ruderman (D-District 2), Brickwood Galuteria (D-District 12), and Glenn Wakai (D-District 15) introduced SB 2373, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Act, on January 22, 2016. The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health and the Committee on Judiciary and Labor, where it failed to meet a deadline for a hearing to be scheduled. In the House, HB 1255, introduced by Representative Ken Ito (D-District 49) in 2015, carried over to the 2016 session. Similar to the Senate bill, the House physician-assisted dying bill failed to meet a deadline for a hearing.
Our leadership team is working with our local partner, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Society, to rebuild a foundation for success.
- History of SB 1129
- Full text of SB 1129
- Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health Report