Issue of medically assisted death elicits strong reactions at State Capitol


UPDATE: Two House committees passed House Bill 2739 Wednesday with amendments.

The House Committee on Health and Human Services voted 4-1 and the House Committee on Judiciary voted 7-1 to approve the measure.

We’re told the bill was amended to stipulate that the patient must administer the medication on his or her own.

It now goes to the full House for a second reading.

Original post:

The issue of medical aid in dying is once again on the table.

Lawmakers listened to more than a hundred people testify for over five hours Tuesday morning.

Some people, like Reverend Mike, supported the bill.

“This is pretty darn good regulation you’re contemplating,” he said. “I support it.”

He explained that he supports the bill because it would create laws governing something that he said is already happening.

“There is an elephant in this room. The elephant in this room is the fact that we already have medical-assisted dying,” he said.

Others were against it, like Marie Tokuda Wong, a nurse who claimed her husband was killed by her doctor.

“This bill will allow doctors to allow their own self expression or agenda in murdering their patients and not be accountable for their own self motivated action,” Wong said. “And they will no longer listen to their patient’s request or their family to get full treatment for their illness to get better, which everyone is entitled to.”

The proposal is nicknamed the “Our Care, Our Choice” bill. If passed, it would create set guidelines that would allow an adult, diagnosed with a terminal illness and only six months to live, the choice to take prescription medication to end their own life.

“‘Our Care, Our Choice’ refers to the right of people to make healthy choices about their body for themselves,” said Rep. John M. Mizuno, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, in a written statement.

Many of those who testified at the hearing had strong feelings about the issue. Kathleen Hashimoto said she was in hospice in 2009, but made a full recovery.

“Miraculously, I was cured and I was kicked out of hospice after five months,” Hashimoto said. “But I am concerned for those in that position because a lot of the drugs and the chemotherapy do really affect your mind in your mental state. I am also very concerned … with the patient-doctor relationship … from one of caring and supporting the patient to one of becoming a death agent.”

DeMont Conner said he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia two years ago. He has recovered from his cancer, but he is still in full support of the bill.

“Regardless of what my position or my own personal thing is, that’s my choice,” Conner said. “If I choose to not suffer anymore, that’s what I’m going do. I need a way out. But what I don’t want is for my wife and my doctor to be made criminals because they’re helping me with my choice.”

The House committee received more than 600 submissions of written testimony. Lawmakers will reconvene on Wednesday at noon in room 329 at the State Capitol to make a decision on the bill.

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