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Hawaii Becomes Seventh State to Allow Assisted Suicide
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Summary: There are now six states that have laws that permit physician-assisted suicide. 

Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a right-to-die law on Thursday, and it was met with overwhelming support from the state’s legislature. According to San Francisco Gate, it is the sixth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide through law.

  
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Hawaii joins California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington in allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives. These states passed right-to-die laws, while Montana permits physician-assisted suicide after a 2009 court case ruling.

Hawaii’s new law comes at a time when support for patients’ right to choose when they die is high. A Gallup poll from last summer said that 73% of Americans are in favor of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

While the majority of Americans support right-to-die, the New York Supreme Court upheld a ban of the practice in September; and of the 27 states that proposed right-to-die bills last year, none made it to the floor for a vote.

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Charmaine Manansala, national director of political advocacy for Compassion and Choices, told the San Francisco Gate that the group is thrilled that Hawaii chose to be compassionate towards terminally ill patients.

“We are thrilled that Hawaii residents now have access to this compassionate end-of-life option. About 20 percent of Americans now have access to medical aid-in-dying, and Hawaii’s passage shows that momentum for these laws continues to build,” Manansala said.



While right-to-die has advocates, the physician organization, the American Medical Association, opposes physician-assisted suicide laws.

Hawaii’s law states that if a person is told by a medical doctor that they only have six months to live they may request life-ending medication after taking a psychological test. Only a doctor can prescribe this medication.

In Hawaii, patients must also obtain two written testimonies from witnesses who can vouch for the patient wanting to end their life. The patient must also take the medication themselves.

A right-to-die bill was voted on in Hawaii in 2002, but it failed after 14 senators voted against the bill. However, attitudes towards the practice have shifted.

“I think more and more people are coming to terms with it,” Senator Donna Mercado Kim said. “As the population ages, they’ve been caregiving for their parents and relatives, and just seeing all the technology to keep people alive, unlike before, and see people suffering.”

Kim had previously voted against the bill, and she said that with time, she saw the need for humane right-to-die laws.

What do you think of right-to-die laws? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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