Hawaii Senate Votes Down Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill
The Hawaii Senate yesterday narrowly rejected a measure (HB 2487) that would have made Hawaii the second state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 13 to 12 to approve the bill on its second reading. But yesterday the bill, which had been approved by the state House, failed after three senators switched their positions and voted against the legislation (Kua, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 5/2). The bill would have allowed physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill, competent adults. Under the legislation, mercy killings, lethal injections and euthanasia would have been prohibited (Reyes, Associated Press, 3/7). Gov. Ben Cayetano (D), who "strongly supported" the bill, pushed the Senate to take action on the measure after a federal judge last month upheld Oregon's landmark physician assisted-suicide law, which served as a model for the Hawaii legislation. Before holding yesterday's vote, senators were "inundated" with phone calls, faxes and visits by both supporters and opponents of the bill, the Star-Bulletin reports. Sen. Rod Tam (D), one of the three lawmakers to switch his vote, said in a statement, "Upon reviewing the bill, the e-mails and phone calls, it is my decision that such an important and emotional issue involving life-and-death decisions should not be decided in the short time span we have left in this [legislative] session" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 5/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.