The 21st Show

New bill in Illinois Senate to allow terminally ill Illinoisans the right to end their lives

The Illinois State Capitol.

The Illinois State Capitol. Reginald Hardwick/IPM News

Senate Bill 3499, introduced in the Illinois General Assembly, aims to establish the End-of-Life Options for Terminally Ill Patients Act. This bill, if passed, would allow terminally ill patients in Illinois to request aid-in-dying medication, enabling them to end their lives in a peaceful manner.

The bill outlines specific procedures and forms for requesting aid-in-dying medication, details the responsibilities of attending and consulting physicians, and includes provisions for determining a patient's mental capacity, among other safeguards. The legislation has sparked significant debate, reflecting broader national discussions on the right to die with dignity. Advocates argue that it offers individuals the autonomy to make their own end-of-life decisions, potentially providing relief from unbearable suffering.

Critics, however, raise ethical concerns and worry about the potential for abuse or coercion, as well as the accuracy of terminal diagnoses. Illinois would join ten other states with similar laws, continuing a trend that began with Oregon's statewide referendum in 1994.

The proposal in Illinois includes stringent safeguards, such as requiring the patient to be mentally capable, to consult with two different doctors, and to make a written request before self-administering the medication


State Sen. Linda Holmes

D-Oswego (42nd District)

Khadine Bennett

Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois

Amber Smock

Vice President of Advocacy, Access Living