Hawaii lawmakers approve bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide

Hawaii lawmakers approve bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide
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Hawaii's state Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would allow terminally ill patients to seek the help of their doctors in obtaining life-ending medicine. 

The bill, which was sent to the governor's desk for signing, would make Hawaii the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, Reuters reported

The measure would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of patients, so long as two doctors deem the patient mentally competent and determine that the individual has no longer than six months to live.

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Under the law, doctors would not be allowed to administer the medication themselves, meaning patients would have to take it on their own, Reuters reported.

The state's House of Representatives OK'd the measure earlier this month. 

So far, six states have approved laws permitting terminally ill patients to seek medical help in dying. Those states are California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. 

Such measures have been the subjects of controversy. Opponents of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill argue that the practice is vulnerable to abuses, because patients could be pressured by caregivers or others to end their own lives.

Religious groups have also opposed such measures, arguing, among other things, that suicide is immoral.

But advocates for legalizing medical aid in dying say the practice can allow patients at the end of their lives to die with dignity and in less pain than they might otherwise.