HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with the aid of a physician passed its first committee hearing Wednesday.
About 300 people signed up to testify on SB 1129.
The bill would allow terminally ill patients who are in a sound state of mind to obtain a physician's help in medically ending their lives.
Supporters of the bill say it allows patients to end prolonged suffering, but opponents say the measure could lower care quality for elderly patients and lead to elder abuse.
Six members of the Senate Consumer Protection and Health Committee voted to pass the measure with amendments.
"This measure is simply one that gives people a choice in end of life care," Committee Chairwoman Sen. Rosalyn Baker said. "I think people want that ultimate choice if they have a debilitating, terminal illness and would like to have some control over their last days of life. This is what SB 1129 allows them to do."
Opponents also argue this measure is a green light for medical suicide. Supporters say it's not about suicide, but the bill's intent is aimed at compassion and giving patients a choice on end-of-life decisions.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.