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State lawmakers are gearing up to hear testimony legalizing medically assisted deaths

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Here we go again, state lawmakers are gearing up to hear testimony legalizing medically assisted death.

"They're terminally ill, in excruciating pain and they just want the option. Not that they're gonna use it, but they want the option to make a decision on their own anatomy," Representative John Mizuno said.

Mizuno says he's preparing to take in hours of emotional testimony on a controversial measure called Our Care, Our Choice. The bill would give those with a terminal disease access to medication to end their life.

It's an option long time lobbyist John Radcliffe yearns for. He has lived with stage four colon and liver cancer since 2014 and just completed his 59th round of chemotherapy. 

"As long as the chemotherapy is working it's working. Now every time I go in will see if it works and so far so good," Radcliffe said. "If there's no cause to use the medicine you don't use it. The trouble you have is if you don't know what your time is so it's nice to have it handy." 

Despite strong support for a similar bill last session, the house health and human services committee deferred it. The committee is headed by Rep Della Au Belatti. 

"Last year's bill was really based on the Oregon bill, this year's bill looks more like the California bill that has a few more safeguards including two requests as well as a written request," Belatti said. 

This version would require two people including a physician to vouch for the patient's clear state of mind before a lethal self-administered prescription is granted. If passed, Hawaii would become the 7th state in the nation to approve it. 

Local religious groups that oppose suicide are among those against the bill. 

"Many of our people are Christians and Catholics. I certainly am a Christian and I think the thought is, how long is it? If someone is terminally ill and have less than six months to live and are in excruciating pain, do we tell that person just deal with your pain? Suffer for six months in pain until you just die? and I don't know if that's the right message."

Tuesday's hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. inside the chamber floor auditorium before joint committees on the house, health and human services and judiciary. 

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