Terminally ill patients in Hawaii now have the option of taking their own lives with prescription drugs. The change in law took effect on Jan. 1, WAFB-TV reported.
Under the "Our Care, Our Choice Act," patients who have less than six months to live can be prescribed medications to end their life. In order to be prescribed the drugs, patients have to get to independent diagnoses that they have less than six months to live. They also have to undergo psychological counseling.
According to U.S. News and World Report, "patients must make three requests for the medication, voicing two at least 20 days apart and writing the third signed by two witnesses."
“It’s the fear of that horrible, painful or completely sedated, unconscious death,” said Scott Foster, of the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society. “Having that medication right there knowing that if they need it that’s there. That is what relieves people to no end.”
Not everyone is happy about the new law though.
“It’s really not physician-assisted suicide, it’s doctors writing a prescription to a legal dose of medicine to the kill the patient. And that’s inconsistent with the Hippocratic Oath,” Attorney James Hochberg, president of the Hawaii Family Advocates, which opposes the law, said. “People assume that the doctor writes you a prescription for a pill. You decided you want to take it and you die. That’s not the way it works. You get 100 capsules and you empty the contents. You mix it and you wait hour."
The Hawaii Department of Health anticipates 40 to 70 patients requesting physician-assisted suicide this year. The Department plans to offer training for medical professionals for dealing with these requests.
Assisted suicide is also legal in six other states, including California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.