2018 Talking Points

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Feel free to use any of the following talking points but please use your own words:  

– In late January of 2018, the Hawai‘i State AFL-CIO passed a resolution “calling for lawmakers to enact legislation authorizing medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. Prior to this vote, the AFL-CIO had a neutral stance on medical aid in dying.”
– “Among the reasons to support medical aid in dying cited in AFL-CIO’s resolution are:
Aid in dying has been successfully implemented in Oregon and five other states; as a result, the quality of end-of-life care, pain management and the use of hospice have all greatly improved.”
– Patients find great comfort and peace of mind in having the prescription drug, even if they choose to not use it. Just knowing it’s there if they need it greatly relieves their anxiety.  
– A November 2016 public opinion poll by Hawaii’s respected Anthology Marketing Group found 80% of Hawai‘i voters agree with the statement:
“When a mentally capable adult is dying of a terminal disease that cannot be cured, do you think that this adult should have the legal option to request prescription medicine from their doctor, and use that medication to end their suffering in their final stages of dying?”
– “Twenty years of transparent reporting and study of aid-in-dying medical practice in Oregon demonstrates the safety of the option in upholding a patient’s right to self-determination.”
– “Well-respected health and medical organizations recognize medical aid in dying as a legitimate, necessary end-of-life option for eligible adults facing an imminent death from a terminal illness, including The American Public Health Association, The American Medical Women’s Association, The American Medical Student Association and The American Academy of Legal Medicine.”
– Once strongly opposed, in 2017 the Hawaii Medical Association took a neutral position and did not testify.
– Other large state-wide Hawaii organizations that support Medical Aid in Dying include the Democratic Party of Hawaii, the Kokua Council of Seniors, Americans For Democratic Action and The American Civil Liberties Union. 
– Since Oregon first passed Death With Dignity in 1994, the state has seen flawless implementation of the law. Washington and Vermont have seen similar results.
But it is not only the end of life option that helps people. It is the recognition that their pain and suffering must be treated appropriately. Across the country, we have seen significant advances in pain control and hospice care to provide those at the end of life with comfort. But sometimes even the best of care and pain management is not enough. In states that do not offer Death With Dignity, terminally ill patients do not have the choice to die on their own terms in a peaceful and dignified way.
– The various bills now before the Legislature contain significant patient safeguards: 
The patient must be diagnosed within six months of death, the same standard used for hospice care.
– The patient must make repeated verbal and written requests, and if there is any indication that the patient is not of sound mind, they must be referred to a mental health professional for evaluation.
– The patient must take the medication themselves. Whether surrounded by family, friends or others, the patient must still self-administer the medication.
– No doctor or health care professional can be forced to participate. All medical professionals have full opt-out provisions and need to state no reason other than they are opposed.
– While opponents often argue that patients can be coerced or forced into this decision, or that certain people such as the disabled will be targeted to use this law, the truth is in 20 years of implementation in Oregon, and in the other states that have passed the law more recently, there is no evidence of any undue influence or coercion.
Instead, their fear-based campaign seeks to impose their own stringent religious beliefs on all the rest of us.