Illinois bill would allow terminally-ill adults to choose medically-assisted deaths

ByRob Hughes WLS logo
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Bill would allow medically-assisted death for some Illinois patients
What states allow assisted death? The Illinois State Senate is considering the End of Life Options Act.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The State of Illinois is considering legislation that would allow terminally-ill adults the choice to die a "medically-assisted death."

The End of Life Options Act would allow eligible patients the right to access life-ending prescription medication.

Suzy Flack described the final moments of her son's life, a choice he consciously made at the age of 34 after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis.

"The end of his life was just as he wanted it," Flack said. "He did manage to say, 'I'm happy.' And those words and how he left are just comforting to me."

Drew Flack was a graduate of Naperville Central High School and a special education teacher in California, a state that currently allows terminally ill adults the right to choose medically-assisted death.

"Drew was talked to by his doctors and then he shared all of the knowledge with his family, with us," Flack said. "He did come to the decision on his own. He felt that that was a very comforting option for him."

The legislation in Illinois requires patients be at least 18 years old, an Illinois resident and a have prognosis of less than six months to live.

According to data from advocacy group Death with Dignity, medically-assisted death is currently legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C. Legislation is being considered in more than a dozen other states, including Illinois.

Dr. Daniel Sulmasy is an ethicist, physician and former professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.

"I think it is bad medicine, bad ethics and bad public policy," Sulmasy said. "It is bad medicine in the sense that it absolutely shouldn't be necessary. It is bad ethics in the sense that we should never concede that somebody has a life that's unworthy of being lived."

As for the proposed public policy Sulmasy believes legalizing the practice of medically assisted death is opening Pandora's Box.

"So once you sort of say that this is OK, it's absolutely uncontrollable," Sulmasy said.

The End of Life Options Act has been introduced in the Illinois State Senate.