Hawaii House lawmakers are set to hear a medical aid in dying bill at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in the Capitol auditorium, giving hope to advocates who have sought the law for years.
The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Scott Nishimoto, and Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. John Mizuno, will hear House Bill 2739 jointly.
“This issue is a matter of providing people with a choice and everyone should be able to make this decision for themselves,” Nishimoto said in a statement Friday. “For people who decide they want this option there will be proper
safeguards in place to protect everyone involved and prevent any possible abuse.”
If the measure passes — and lawmakers expect it will — it will then go to a vote before the full House before crossing over to the Senate for its consideration. The Senate passed a similar bill 22-3 last year but it stalled in the House Health Committee, chaired at the time by Rep. Della Au Belatti.
Belatti has introduced this new measure, HB 2739, which she has said provides additional safeguards. It includes provisions modeled after the California law not just Oregon’s, which has been in place for two decades.
“I believe democracy represents a government of the people, by the people, for the people, which must include a person’s fundamental right to pursue his or her civil rights,” Mizuno said in a statement. “While I sincerely respect the values and choices of all people, I feel that an issue of this magnitude should at the very least have a public hearing to allow the people’s voices to be heard.”
He recognized medical aid in dying — also known as death with dignity and physician-assisted suicide — is a “difficult issue.”
“We as a people must decide if we should recognize whether a person of sound mind who is suffering from a terminal illness while in excruciating pain has the freedom and right of choice regarding his or her own body,” Mizuno said.