Waiting periods in Hawaii’s assisted suicide law have been re-characterized as “barriers” and are set to be removed as early as this week. Assisted suicide advocates stated that “[r]ather than a safety feature” they have “proven to be a barrier for individuals seeking this option.”
HB650, “A Bill for an Act Relating to Health,” was placed on the governor’s desk over the weekend. Governor Josh Green M.D., whose State of Hawaii, Department of Health testified in favor of the bill, is expected to sign the assisted suicide expansion.
Four safety protections are set to be modified or eliminated under this bill. First, advanced practice nurses, not just doctors, will be permitted to write prescriptions for lethal drugs for those qualifying individuals under the law. Second, advanced practice nurses will also be permitted to provide any “counseling” required under the law, including determining a person’s mental capacity.
“Waiting periods” between requests for suicide drugs will also be weakened. Current waiting periods for the deadly drugs are 20 days between oral requests. The signed bill will immediately reduce that time period to five (5) days. Not enough for activists and legislators, the five-day waiting period may be waived entirely if the patient is determined by the nurse or doctor to not likely survive the next five days.
Eva Andrade, director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, noted that this is a “scary part” and “opens the door to the abuse of our elderly.”
Just prior to being sent to Gov. Green’s desk, a provision permitting family and marriage therapists to determine a patient’s mental capacity was removed.
A Connecticut bill to legalize assisted suicide died during that state’s legislative session in April. The bill died in part because of efforts to expand assisted suicide in other states. According to Connecticut Public, State Rep. Steve Stafstrom (D-Bridgeport), co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly Joint Committee on Judiciary stated, “I still struggle very mightily with this bill… But I think I struggled less with it earlier in the session before we saw legislative efforts and litigation efforts in other states to undo many of the protections we’ve tried to put into this bill for Connecticut residents….”
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