News

Coalition member responds to Daily Herald column on assisted suicide

March 16, 2020

In response to a column on assisted suicide that appeared in the March 12, 2020 edition of the Daily Herald, coalition member Pam Heavens wrote a letter to the editor, which was published today.  The letter may be viewed here or below.

Assisted suicide is invitation to murder

As a person who has a significant disability that impacts all areas of my life, I experienced anger, disappointment and frustration in reading the column about Ralph McFadden, who hopes that he is living in Illinois when the time comes for him to take a pill that will cause his death. If Illinois legalizes doctor-assisted suicide, it will join the nine states as well as the District of Columbia that have such statutes. McFadden is a former pastor and hospice chaplain who has witnessed dozens of people die. He has seen people unable to walk, having to use wheelchairs, needing to be fed and wearing diapers. Each day millions of people with disabilities, including me, live full lives despite being unable to perform certain activities.

The fact remains that if doctor-assisted suicide is legalized, people with disabilities will become targets for eager medical professionals, family members and friends who believe that easing someone’s pain via death is compassionate. I believe it is assisted murder.

Disability remains a problem for many non-disabled people, many of whom can’t imagine living full lives with a disability. Legalizing doctor-assisted suicide will put the lives of people with disabilities in jeopardy. Some reasons why people with a disability may choose to end their life include that they don’t want to be a “burden” on family members/friends, there’s a dearth of support groups, and the overriding reason: we, with our devices and medicines, are just too expensive. And subtle cues by a variety of people have the potential of swaying a person with a disability to choose death over life.

Rather than legalizing doctor-assisted suicide, energy must be put toward improving and increasing genuine options for education, employment, housing, and in-home assistance for the disabled.

Pam Heavens

Joliet

Evanston City Council dumps assisted suicide resolution

Feb. 11, 2020

City of EvanstonEvanston City Council members last night ducked a resolution in support of assisted suicide after a large turnout of advocates on both sides of the issue.

Disability rights activists from Chicagoland organizations Access Living, Chicago ADAPT and Progress Center for Independent Living showed up to tell of the dangers of assisted suicide, while individuals representing national advocacy group Compassion and Choices  pushed the so-called “safety” of the process.

Just as the council was set to take up the resolution, Evanston resident Fay Clayton, wearing a yellow Compassion and Choices T-shirt, asked for the resolution to be withdrawn. Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty agreed, but allowed attendees to make short comments about the proposal. When the comments ended, council members struck the resolution from its agenda, saying more public discussion was needed.

The proposal is expected to resurface in the future at the city council.

No legislation legalizing assisted suicide has yet to be introduced in the Illinois Legislature.

Watch this CBS-2 Chicago story on the issue in which reporter Vince Gerasole interviews Amber Smock, advocacy director of Access Living. Read more about last night’s council meeting in this article from the Daily Northwestern.

Evanston City Council to consider assisted suicide resolution

Feb. 4, 2020

City of EvanstonFormal support for assisted suicide may soon be coming to the city of Evanston.

Members of the city council’s Human Services Committee last night voted to send a resolution supporting assisted suicide to the full council. The committee in 2018 refused to send a similar measure to council members.

Resident and disability rights advocate Larry Biondi told committee members that if legalized, assisted suicide would become “the cheapest treatment available in our profit-driven health care system,” according to local media outlet Evanston Now. He also noted that legalization offers no safeguards against abuse.

National disability advocate Diane Coleman of Not Dead Yet applauded Biondi’s comments in a blog post published today.

According to Evanston Now, more than a dozen attendees wore yellow T-shirts sporting the name and logo of Compassion and Choices, a national organization that supports the legalization of assisted suicide.

Also attending was state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, who is expected to sponsor any state legislation authorizing assisted suicide. No such bill has yet appeared in the Illinois Legislature.

Evanston Now reported that Gabel told committee members it would be easier for her to push potential legislation “if I can show that my home towns support me.”

First article on assisted suicide appears in Illinois media

Oct. 12, 2019

The State Journal-Register in Springfield today published an article, “Interest in ‘medical-aid-in-dying’ law rising in Illinois,” which features Dr. David Grube, the national medical director for Compassion & Choices, a national organization that advocates for assisted suicide. Grube is scheduled to speak about the issue on Oct. 17 at a free seminar hosted by the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s medical humanities department.

The article also features comments from state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, who said she plans on introducing legislation that would legalize assisted suicide in Illinois in 2020, or more likely, 2021.