Hawaii has become the seventh state to allow medically assisted suicide with at least two doctors' recommendations and a mental health exam.
Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Assisted suicide now legal in Hawaii for patients with terminal illness

Hawaii’s new medically assisted suicide law went into effect on Jan. 1, making the state the seventh to allow dying patients to take their own lives.

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The medically assisted suicide law, called the Our Care, Our Choice Act, or OCOCA, allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to dying patients with less than six months to live who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness by at least two doctors. The law also requires a mental health evaluation, making Hawaii the only state of the seven so far that requires one, before allowing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication.

Not everyone is on board with the new legislation. Officials with Hawaii Pacific Health and Honolulu’s The Queen’s Medical Center said they won’t allow their pharmacies to fill the end-of-life prescriptions and they won’t allow assisted suicide on their campuses, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Under the new law, health care providers and health care facilities are not legally required to participate in the OCOCA and can opt out.

Hawaii also has several other requirements before a terminal patient can obtain a lethal prescription:

  1. Age 18 or older and a Hawaii resident;
  2. Able to take the prescribed medication themselves
  3. Able to make two oral requests not less than 20 days apart to their attending physician
  4. Able to provide one written request after meeting eligibility criteria from all three (3) health care providers (two doctors and a psychologist); and
  5. Mentally capable to make an informed decision.

The patient also has the right to change his or her mind and not take the medication.

Gov. David Ige signed the OCOCA into law in April 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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