House Committees Pass ‘Our Care, Our Choice’ Bill with Safeguards

The House Health & Human Services Committee and Judiciary Committee today passed House Bill 2739 titled “Our Care, Our Choice.”

According to House officials, the bill provides the most rigorous safeguards of any state in the nation to protect terminally ill patients.

“The Legislature has carefully examined this issue over the past two decades. During the interim, we looked closely at what other states have done and heard the public’s concerns,” said House Majority Leader Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakōlea, McCully, Pāwa‘a, Mānoa). “This bill provides strong protections for terminally ill patients and their families while allowing patients to exercise their end of life choices.”

The bill allows qualified patients in Hawaiʻi with a medically confirmed terminal illness with less than six months to live and possessing decision making capacity, to determine their own medical care at the end of their lives.

The bill establishes a regulatory process under which an adult resident of the State with a medically confirmed terminal disease may choose to obtain a prescription for medication to end their life. The bill also imposes criminal sanctions for tampering with a patient’s request for a prescription or coercing a patient to request a prescription.

“Our Care, Our Choice” refers to the right of people to make health choices for themselves. At least 30 states have either enacted or considered enacting similar aid in dying bills.

Additional safeguards in the bill include:

  • Confirmation by two health care providers of the patient’s diagnoses, prognosis, and medical competence;
  • Two verbal requests from the patient, separated by not less than 20 days, and one signed written request that is witnessed by two people, one of whom must be unrelated to the patient;
  • Counseling required for all qualified patients with a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker to determine that the patient is capable of making an informed decision and is not suffering from undertreatment or nontreatment of depression or other conditions that interfere with their ability make an end of life choice;
  • Allowing counseling to be done via telehealth; and
  • The patient retains the right to rescind the request for life ending medication.

The bill now goes to the full House for a second reading.