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Hawaii

Current Status

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.

Senate Bill 1129

SB 1129, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Act (renamed by amendment to Medical Aid in Dying 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 Hawaiʻi State Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health, on February 15, where it passed with amendments on a 6 to 0 vote. On February 28 the bill passed in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, again with amendments, on a 4 to 0 vote.

On March 7, 2017, the Hawai‘i State Senate passed SB 1129 on a 22 to 3 vote.

The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives Committee on Health heard the bill on March 23, 2017, and deferred it.

Organizations that submitted testimony in support of SB 1129 (now SB 1129 SD2) for the Senate hearings included:

  • Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Society
  • ACLU of Hawai‘i
  • Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (separately also the DP’s LGBT Caucus, Kapuna Caucus, and Women’s Caucus)
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union
  • Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i
  • Life of Land
  • Rainbow Family 808
  • First Unitarian Church of Honolulu
  • Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities Hawai‘i
  • Hawai‘i Psychological Association
  • Nursing Advocates and Mentors
  • Compassion & Choices
  • Hawai‘i Association for Justice
  • Filipino-American Advocacy Network
  • Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights
  • Americans for Democratic Action Hawai‘i
  • Hawai‘i Advocates for Consumer Rights

The Hawai‘i Medical Association has stated it would not oppose any assisted dying legislation this session.

Other Bills

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:

Meanwhile an October 2015 Stanford University poll found that 76.5 percent of Hawai‘i residents favor assisted dying as an end-of-life option (80 percent in a 2016 Anthology Research poll).

History

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:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • 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 has worked with our local partner, Hawai‘i Death with Dignity Society, to rebuild a foundation for success.

Resources

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