Former governor criticizes lawmakers for deferring 'Death with D - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former governor criticizes lawmakers for deferring 'Death with Dignity' bill

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Neil Abercrombie took lawmakers to task a day after the state house Health Committee deferred action on a "Death with Dignity" bill.

The former governor has remained politically quiet after losing his re-election bid more than two years ago. 

Abercrombie supported the measure, which would have allowed terminally ill patients to get a prescription that they could use to end their life. The Health Committee tabled the measure because of a lack of specifics, as well as safeguards to protect vulnerable people.

"I could see a deferral if there were still a lot of issues to be resolved around the bill," said Abercrombie. "But this has gone on year after year after year."

Abercrombie wants lawmakers to use a procedure that would bring the measure before the full house.

"You can remove a bill from committee, take it to the floor and vote on the floor. And what I'm hoping and advocating for is that this bill get a vote," he said.

But state House Majority Leader Scott Saiki defended the committee. He said it had already listened to hours of passionate testimony, both for and against the bill, before deciding not to take action.

"Neil Abercrombie should understand that a bill like this is very significant, it's very controversial," said Saiki. "There are a lot of different opinions on how this legislation should be drafted."

Seventeen representatives would have to agree to pull the measure out of the committee for a full house vote.

"This issue needs to be resolved one way or the other, and we need to have this issue voted on," said Abercrombie. "That's the way we do it in a representative democracy and that's all I'm asking for." 

Saiki said that's unlikely to happen with this measure.

"What he's asking for is not reasonable, and it's something we will not do," he said.

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