Governor signs historic ‘Our Care, Our Choice’ legislation

Posted on Apr 24, 2018 in Featured

COMPASSION AND CHOICE: Gov. Ige, legislators and advocate John Radcliffe gather for the signing of HB2739.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, mentally capable, terminally ill people with six months or less to live will have the option to take prescription medication that enables them to die peacefully in their sleep. That is the result of Governor Ige signing into law the “Our Care, Our Choice” Act on April 5.

“It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawai‘i residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace,” said the governor. “We know that our loved ones will eventually die, but they don’t need to suffer.” He said the law ensures the patient is in full control.

The bill is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has been in effect for 20 years. It includes strict eligibility criteria and safeguards that ensure a safe, compassionate and patient-centered end-of-life practice. The measure also makes it a criminal offense to tamper with a patient’s request for a prescription or to coerce a patient to request a prescription.

Among those present for the bill signing was retired lobbyist John Radcliffe, who was diagnosed in 2014 with stage 4 colon cancer. “Finally, after nearly 20 years, we have a law that permits mercy in dying,” he said. Radcliffe thanked Governor Ige and state legislators, particularly Sen. Rosalyn Baker, for their support.

Read more in May Capitol Connection newsletter