April 20, 2024

Hawaii relaxes controls on assisted suicide

Hawaii has relaxed its safeguards on assisted suicide, which was legalized only five years ago, in 2018. The state’s governor, Josh Green, a retired oncologist, signed a bill earlier this month which cuts the waiting period to obtain a lethal prescription. Originally, a patient had to make two oral requests 20 days apart. This has been cut to 5.

This follows a trend in other states. A few years after legalization, the interval becomes shorter and shorter. Washington state reduced its waiting period from 15 to 7 days earlier this year. Last year California reduced the interval from 21 days to 2 days.

The Hawaii legislation also permits doctors to waive the mandatory minimum waiting period for terminally ill patients who are not expected to survive the 5-day interval. According to the right-to-die lobby group Compassion & Choices, “Two of the largest healthcare systems in Hawai‘i found that a significant number of eligible patients run out of time during the waiting period.”