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Feel good story of the week.

Illinois considers "right to die" law


Data: Death With Dignity; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios Visuals

Illinois legislators this month introduced a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.


Why it matters: Advocates say giving terminal patients more control of end-of-life decisions brings more dignity to death, but opponents say it's at odds with physicians' responsibility to care for patients and can open the door to more suicide.


The big picture: If the bill becomes law, Illinois would become the 11th state to have medically assisted dying on the books, Axios' Maya Goldman reports.

Oregon has had a law since 1994, and states including Wisconsin and Massachusetts are also considering legalizing the practice.


Zoom in: State Sen. Linda Holmes tells Axios she co-sponsored the bill in Illinois after watching both of her parents die of cancer.


"When my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer … she was given less than six months to live," Holmes tells Axios. "But I remember in those days sitting at the side of her bed, and she grabbed my arm and she's like, 'Linda, don't let them do anything.'"

How it works: According to the bill, patients 18 and older have to be determined mentally capable and have a prognosis of six months or less to live in order to get access to the drugs.


They have to personally request the drugs, be examined by a doctor, and then get a second opinion from another doctor.


If either doctor has any questions about the patient's mental capabilities, they must request a mental health care professional to evaluate the case.


Yes, but: Physicians can refuse to prescribe the drug to patients.

By the numbers: According to a study conducted from 1998 to 2020, 5,329 patients died by "medical aid in dying" (MAID) and 8,451 received a prescription in states that had such laws and publicly available records.


Roughly 74% of those deaths involved a cancer diagnosis, per the study.


The median age was 74.


The other side: Major medical associations have not endorsed medically assisted death.

The Chicago-based American Medical Association argues that "physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

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