The US state of Hawaii has legalised assisted suicide – amid concerns that the law encourages doctors to lie about patients’ cause of death.
Governor David Ige signed the ‘Our Care, Our Choice Act’ into law last week and it is due to take effect on 1 January next year.
But critics say it could lead to less support for palliative care and hasty decisions being made.
Hawaii Family Forum, a conservative family group, opposed the Bill and brought a petition of 18,000 signatures before lawmakers.
President of the group, Eva Andrade, said concerns from the medical and disability community “were not taken into consideration”.
Under the law, the person making the request must be deemed to be in the final stages of a terminal illness by two doctors before they are allowed to self-administer lethal drugs. The person must also be over the age of 18 to access the drugs.
UK pro-life group Care Not Killing said that the law is a “deeply political” text.
It explained: “The law also requires that the underlying illness be recorded as the ‘immediate’ cause of death.
“Terms such as ‘assisted dying’ and ‘aid in dying’ might be considered examples of extreme poetic licence, but to register cancer (for example) as the ‘immediate’ cause of death when the heart stopped beating that day entirely as a result of ingesting a barbiturate is not only a lie, but one now mandated by state law.”
Hawaii becomes the latest US state to legalise assisted suicide – following in the footsteps of states including Oregon, Washington and California.