Illinois Mother Pleads to Legislators to Pass Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

Illinois Mother Pleads to Legislators to Pass Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation
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Illinois Mother Pleads to Legislators to Pass Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation (Springfield, IL) — A Chicago mother, Suzy Flack has recorded a Mother’s Day video to urge legislators in Illinois to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation as quickly as possible to honor her only son, Andrew ‘Drew’ Flack, who died from cancer.

The video comes as Illinois legislators consider the End-of-Life Options for Terminally Ill Patients Act (SB 3499) which would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request a prescription for medication that they could decide to take to die peacefully. To see the video, click here.

Andrew was a special education teacher and an avid hockey player who spent his last months of life advocating for medical aid in dying in his home state of Illinois by recording a video for Compassion & Choices and through his blog and podcast. Fortunately, he had moved from Illinois to California before he became ill, so Andrew had the option to use California’s End of Life Option Act to die peacefully. Andrew died on November 16, 2022. He was only 34 years old.

“That option was so comforting to Drew,” Suzy says in the video. “Even more than death itself, he feared that his body would just deteriorate to the point where he had no quality of life.”

For two years, Andrew endured numerous rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery after he was diagnosed in 2017 with stage III colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, the painful treatments did nothing to cure the cancer. In December 2020, doctors told Andrew his cancer was terminal.

“When Drew found out [he] was terminal…I asked him, [I] actually pleaded, please come back home.” Suzy says in the video. “It was a hardcore ‘no,’ because Illinois did not offer the option of medical aid and dying.“

Suzy understands first-hand the positive impact of authorizing medical aid-in-dying laws, and urged lawmakers to listen to the majority (71%) of Illinoisans who want the Illinois legislature to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation.

This majority spans the demographic, political, racial, and religious spectrums, including 87% of Democratic voters, 86% of Latino voters, 73% of voters living with disabilities, 69% of Independent, African American/Black, White, and Catholic voters, 58% of non-Catholic Christians and 50% of Republican voters. In contrast, fewer than one in five Illinois voters (17%) oppose medical aid in dying.

“The way he died and the peacefulness of it,” she said. “That is something I will be carrying around forever.”

Suzy recalled that evening of November 16, 2022, when Drew took the medication, surrounded by his loved ones, including Jaxson, his roommate’s dog. She said a nurse mixed the medication and gave Andrew a spoon with raspberry sorbet.

“Within two minutes, he was snoring, and my ex-husband looked over at me…we both smiled, because Drew had not had a good night’s sleep for many years,” she said. “…The snoring was just music to our ears. Drew’s final words before he fell asleep were, ‘I’m happy.’”

Medical aid in dying is authorized in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana (via a state Supreme Court ruling), Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Washington, D.C. and  Vermont.

“Andrew Flack was a hero for advocating that everyone should have access to the full range of healthcare options at the end of life,” said Callie Riley, Regional Advocacy Director for Compassion & Choices. “He believed Illinois residents should be able to die peacefully as he did in his adopted home of California.”

“Terminally ill Illinoisans should have the option of medical aid in dying, and that’s why we continue to urge the Legislature to pass SB 3499 this year,” Riley added. “Dying Illinoisans cannot afford to wait.”

The Illinois End-of-Life Options Coalition is a statewide partnership dedicated to raising both awareness and support across Illinois for medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults. The coalition’s goal is to authorize medical aid in dying and ensure that terminally ill people who want it can access it. The coalition’s partners include ACLU Illinois, Compassion & Choices Action Network Illinois, and Final Options Illinois.

Illinois Mother Pleads to Legislators to Pass Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation


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