FACT CHECK: Did Hawaii Purchase 30 Suicide Assistance Pods?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook claims the Hawaiian government recently purchased 30 “passing assistance pods” for facilitating medically assisted suicides.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Hawaii made such a purchase. The claim appears to originate from a satirical Facebook post.

Fact Check:

Hawaiian Gov. David Ige signed the Our Care, Our Choice Act into law in 2018, joining Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia in offering the option of medically assisted suicide to individuals through law, per CNN. The Hawaiian law went into effect in January 2019, according to The Associated Press.

A viral Facebook post alleges the Hawaiian government purchased 30 “passing assistance pods” to help aid medically assisted suicides. It purportedly describes the procedure of using the pods and includes an image of the machines the state allegedly purchased.

“To start the procedure, the client must hold their hand down on a button for 30 seconds; this confirms to the system that they are ready to go,” reads the post. “At this point, the pod door locks and a mixture of gases are dispensed into the pod. These gases cause the person’s brain to slowly shut down over a period of around 15 minutes. The combination of gases is tasteless and odorless and causes the patient to fall into an endless sleep.”

However, the Daily Caller News Foundation didn’t find any credible media reporting about Hawaii buying the pods described in the post. There also does not appear to be any record of the state purchasing them on Hawaii’s State Procurement Office website. (RELATED: Was Tulsi Gabbard The First Hindu American Elected To Congress?)

“The Hawaii Department of Health has not procured any ‘suicide pods’ for use under Hawaii’s medical aid in dying law, nor for any other purpose,” a spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Health confirmed in an email to the DCNF. “The department has no intention or plans to procure that or similar devices.”

The pod featured in the post appears to be the Sarco, a device invented by Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke and Dutch designer Alexander Bannink, according to Newsweek. The machine is intended to produce a rapid decrease in oxygen level until the user dies but, according to the product’s website, it is “not and will not at this point be for sale.”

The claim seems to stem from a post shared on the Facebook page The State of Hawaii, a self-described “entertainment website” that is not affiliated with the state’s government. The State of Hawaii Facebook page makes it clear that the post is satirical in the comments, though some social media users lifted the image and text, portraying it as real.

The Hawaiian law for medically assisted suicide requires two health care providers to confirm an adult patient’s diagnosis of a terminal illness, prognosis of less than six months to live and that the request is voluntary, according to The Associated Press. The patient, who must undergo a mental health evaluation, must also make two oral requests for the medication at least 20 days apart and one written request signed by two witnesses, per the Hawaiian Department of Health website.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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