By Chris Haring

Right-to-die advocates in Illinois are hoping that a bill being proposed by the state’s ACLU chapter will expand end-of-life options for its residents.

As 2023 begins to wind down and a new legislative season approaches, the aid-in-dying movement is taking a moment to celebrate the efforts of a coalition partner who hopes to expand assisted-dying access to terminally ill Illinois residents in 2024.

The ACLU knows that assisted death is a fundamental right

As 23 News journalist Anthony Ferretti reported, the state’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) branch plans to introduce an aid-in-dying bill in the Spring. This proposed law aims to allow qualifying adults with six months or less to live to obtain a prescription that would enable them to end their lives peacefully.

Currently, ten U.S. states (and Washington D.C.) allow physician-assisted death. Illinois would become the twelfth jurisdiction to legalize the right to die since Oregon passed its original Death with Dignity Act in 1994.

For many patients, medical aid in dying offers peace of mind

ACLU of Illinois Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Khadine Bennett spoke to 23 News. While some patients ultimately decide against taking the life-ending medication, she emphasized that “It’s [often] enough for them to know that if they need it, they have it.” Her words highlight how expanding end-of-life options can empower people living with terminal illnesses in their final days.

Notably, a 2023 Impact Research survey indicates that nearly 75% of Illinois voters living with a disability would support medical aid in dying legislation, Ferretti reported. The proposed law would also require civil and criminal immunity for participating healthcare providers.

Thanks to the sustained advocacy and growing momentum from organizations such as the ACLU of Illinois, the Death with Dignity movement excitedly awaits what promises to be an active 2024 (and beyond)!

For more information on how to get involved in efforts to bring a Death with Dignity law to Illinois, please visit the state page on our website.

Read the full article below:

Illinois ACLU to propose legislation for medical aid in dying

By Anthony Ferretti
published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 2:37 PM EDT

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Medical aid in dying is authorized in ten U.S. states and in Washington D.C and one state human rights organization wants to add Illinois to that list.

The End-of-Life Options Coalition supports legislation that may be introduced as soon as this spring. It would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adult patients with six months or fewer to live to get a prescription they can take to help them die peacefully.

“We think it’s really important for people to know they have this choice available to them,” says Khadine Bennett with the ACLU.

Khadine Bennett with the ACLU says patients often have to suffer through a painful death. The medical aid in dying could spare many people that pain.

“What we’ve heard from folks who are terminal who wish that they had this option in Illinois is the peace of mind and to know that they don’t have to suffer when they know that they are terminal… It’s enough for them to know if they need it they have it.”

Currently hospice care is one of the only options for end of life care. State Senator Andrew Chesney says he will not support this legislation.

“The idea that we are going to allow doctors in my view to break their oath and not put the patient’s health first and to allow them to artificially terminate their life is really an issue for me, and also a moral one.”

He believes we have medications people can take to ease the pain. He thinks it goes against what doctors stand for.

“I look at the exploitation that it could have to vulnerable groups, and this could be pushed by government that could create a lot of unforeseen circumstances that are not putting the patient first.”

73% of Illinois voters who identify living with a disability would support the Medical Aid in Dying Act, according to a 2023 Impact Research survey.