Responding to the news that the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, has approved a law that would allow assisted dying as an option for terminally ill citizens, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying Sarah Wootton said:
“Hawaii will now become the eighth US jurisdiction to legalise assisted dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent people in their final months of life. By approving this Bill, Hawaiian lawmakers have clearly listened to the views of those they represent – the vast majority of whom support a change in the law – and they have also shown compassion and kindness to their terminally ill citizens. Dying Hawaiians will soon have the right to die on their own terms, if they wish to, rather than at the mercy of cruel illnesses.
“As ever more jurisdictions around the world take this important step towards more compassionate, personalised end-of-life care, the UK’s lack of progress is becoming more apparent and untenable. The brave efforts of politicians and campaigners in Guernsey, where an assisted dying Bill is due to be debated in the coming months, and of individuals like Noel Conway, a man from Shropshire with terminal motor neurone disease who is mounting a legal challenge to the ban on assisted dying, are to be applauded. We urge our elected representatives across the British Isles to act in the spirit of lawmakers around the world who have grasped the nettle on this important issue and done what is right by their citizens.”
Notes to Editor
- Hawaii follows six states – Colorado, California, Washington, Montana, Vermont and Oregon – along with the District of Columbia, in allowing assisted dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in their final six months of life. Oregon was the first state to pass such legislation in the US in 1997.
- Victoria became the first Australian state to pass a Bill legalising assisted dying for terminally ill people in November 2017. A similar Bill was defeated in New South Wales, Australia, by only one vote in November 2017. New Zealand is set to debate similar legislation later this year.
- Canada legalised medical aid in dying (MAID) in June 2016.
- Deputies on the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the British Isles are set to debate a requete (Bill) on assisted dying, brought by Chief Minster Gavin St Pier, in the coming months. If passed, an 18 month consultation period would follow in order to establish the legal framework and parameters of the law.
- A hearing for the Noel Conway case, in which a 68 year-old man with terminal motor neurone disease is challenging the current ban on assisted dying in the UK, is set to take place at the Court of Appeal in London in the first week of May. Mr Conway feels that he is prevented from exercising his right to choice and control over his death under the current law and fears that without a change in the law he may be forced to suffer against his wishes. Noel is bringing this case against the Ministry of Justice to fight for his right to have the option of an assisted death when he is in his final six months of life. Dignity in Dying is supporting Noel’s case.
- Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care. For more information, visit www.dignityindying.org.uk