HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two key House committees approved a controversial medical aid-in-dying measure Wednesday, paving the way for the bill to go to a full House vote.
"This is a tough bill because it deals with issues of life and death. The choice is not an easy choice, but we know people want to make this choice," said House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti.
The measure allows a physician to prescribe life-ending medication to a terminally ill, but mentally-capable patient with less than six months to live.
Of the new added safeguards, the patient must be able to take the medication themselves, only physicians can prescribe it (and not advance practice nurses) and it requires a mental health consultation.
State Reps. Andria Tupola and Bob McDermott voted against the measure.
"I'll be voting no, but I am so grateful that we made this bill better and stronger," said Tupola.
Medical aid-in-dying bills have been debated at the state Legislature for more than two decades.
And on Tuesday, as in years past, big crowds turned out to make sure their voices were heard.
After listening to five hours of testimony Tuesday, lawmakers on the House Health and Human Services and Judiciary committees delayed the vote.
After Wednesday's vote, opponents were disappointed.
"We are praying it's not over yet until its over," said Tarita Tehotu.
Supporters said the lawmakers listened to their need for choice.
"People have their own morality. They have their church, they have their ethics and that's fine. Why should I or anyone else have to live by that," said Malachy Grange.