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Question of the day

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I wouldn’t have expected to see a press release like this, but I did, so here it is…

Illinois AFL-CIO and Chicago Federation of Labor leaders support medical-aid-in-dying state legislation

SPRINGFIELD (February 23, 2024)—A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate last week that would allow medical aid in dying for those suffering from terminal illnesses is supported by the principal officers of both the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois chapter of the AFL-CIO.

The legislation—SB3499, the End of Life Options for Terminally Ill Patients Act, initially sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes and State Sen. Laura Fine, would make Illinois the 11th state to give terminally ill individuals the option to experience a peaceful death by requesting and self-administering medication.

“Our Illinois unions have a long history at being at the forefront of positive social change, and this is another example of them leading the way,” said Amy Sherman, Midwest Advocacy Director for Compassion & Choices Action Network Illinois, a member of the Illinois End-of-Life Options Coalition. “The majority of Illinoisans - 7 out of 10 likely voters in a 2023 Impact Research poll - want this compassionate option. Advocates, especially those experiencing terminal illnesses or who have witnessed loved ones suffer at the end of life, are grateful to see key labor leaders support this legislation.”

“When a worker chooses to join a union, they exercise a fundamental right to engage in collective action to even the field with their employers,” said CFL President Bob Reiter. “And when faced with a terminal diagnosis, people should also have a choice when planning their end-of-life care with their medical providers.”

“Terminally ill patients deserve autonomy and compassion as they weigh end-of-life care options with their medical provider. Dying people should have the power to choose what brings comfort and peace of mind for themselves and their families,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “Just as we fight for the rights of workers to choose to join a union, we must also fight for individuals to have control over their own medical care, especially when faced with a devastating prognosis.”

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. Learn more about their work at illinoisoptions.org

* The Question: Do you agree with their arguments? Explain.

       

42 Comments
  1. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:30 am:

    The reason there are no comments displaying is because instead of answering the question posed, people have gone off the rails.

    Stick to the question.


  2. - annoning - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:32 am:

    Autonomy is a funny thing. Either you believe that an individual should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their own body/life with their family and their doctor, or you think the government should limit that. I personally agree with arguments that support government making people’s lives better while also protecting basic individual liberties


  3. - Now I’m down in it. - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:47 am:

    I don’t agree. Legalizing euthanasia is a slippery slope towards cutting costs in the most morbid way. I also don’t agree with labor unions carrying the torch for issues that don’t pertain to workers rights they have a big enough mountain to climb in that department.


  4. - Moe Berg - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:48 am:

    I agree with the labor leaders’ argument and applaud them for taking a stand in support.

    Why should a nonsentient terminal disease be given the power to “decide” when someone dies, instead of the person enduring the disease’s ravages?

    It is a matter of autonomy and the right of an individual of sound mind to decide what is best for themselves and their families - whether it be to join a union, get married (or divorced), have children, or end their suffering when there is no quality of life and no hope for recovery.

    Anyone who has ever sat with a terminal family member of friend in their final, painful days, knows that it would have been better for them to not have experienced prolonged fear and agony prior to their inevitable passing.


  5. - Demoralized - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:49 am:

    I do agree with their arguments and have always believed that this should be allowed. Terminally ill people should be given the right to choose how they die. They should not be forced to go through any pain or suffering and should be offered the opportunity to have a peaceful death at a time of their choosing.


  6. - Jane - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:53 am:

    “When a worker joins a union. . . ”
    If I were obliged to join a union in order to work in a given field, and my dues funded controversial social policy advocacy, I’d be pretty upset. This provides right-to-work supporters with more ammunition.


  7. - Vote Quimby - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 11:55 am:

    I do agree as I have witnessed my grandfather spend the last six months of his 97 years in a place he specifically said for many years he did not want to be.


  8. - Route 50 Corridor - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:14 pm:

    I agree with their position.
    To me this a deeply moral issue and with my belief, we keep people alive, not because they can get better but because we have grown uncomfortable with death and cannot let people go. Its part of life that we all die. I believe in God and I have seen to many people kept alive longer than God intended with no hope of healing, that is inhumane and we often times treat our pets better than our loved ones.


  9. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    ==If I were obliged to join a union in order to work in a given field, and my dues funded controversial social policy advocacy, I’d be pretty upset.==

    Good news for you, no one is obligated to join a union and union members can redirect the political portion of their dues. Which goes back to the main point: choice.

    I agree with their arguments. These decisions should be made by a person and their doctor and, if they desire, the input of family, faith leaders, and whoever else that person chooses to include in their decision-making process. If you don’t want to ask your doctor for medical assistance (in end-of-life or any other decision), that’s fine. When I near the end of my life, I’d like to have this option. Why should I be forced to wander off into the woods on a cold day in the hopes that I will die before someone finds me? I’d much rather go on my own terms in the company of family and friends.


  10. - Jocko - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==Terminally ill patients deserve autonomy and compassion==

    I’m of the opinion that all human beings deserve autonomy and compassion. I’m in no position to tell someone in the early stages of dementia, an aggressive cancer, or a degenerative illness what they should do. That’s between them, their doctor, and loved ones.


  11. - Jerry - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:22 pm:

    I agree with the union.

    It is nice to see them take a Conservative stand on an issue. If, by Conservative, you mean limited government.


  12. - lake county democrat - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:27 pm:

    Honestly I’m not sure - I get both sides. In theory I’d leave it to the individual, but I do see the potential in practice for this to be abused. One question I have is are there cases where “aggressive hospice care” are insufficient to keep someone pain-free? But even then, there could be costs that the patient doesn’t want to incur (maybe to increase the inheritance to his/her children). Very tough issue.


  13. - Jerry - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:28 pm:

    Hypothetically speaking what if a certain chicken sandwich restaurant chain used their “social policy advocacy” and insisted on government control of marriage, for instance?

    This give true Conservatives (who staunchly believe in limited government) an issue to lobby for!

    Of course your not obligated to patronize this establishment just like you don’t have to join a union.


  14. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:32 pm:

    - One question I have is are there cases where “aggressive hospice care” are insufficient to keep someone pain-free? -

    Every single day. The current solution is that patients are given an overdose of painkillers that kills them.

    This is already happening in a quasi-secret way, but only when a patient has already suffered greatly.


  15. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:35 pm:

    I agree with the sentiment, but giving “medical aid” to end a life is not something I support. Physicians take an oath and the first rule is, do no harm.

    We have living wills and power of attorney so people can make their wishes known. Keeping people pain free is fine, and letting people opt out of resuscitation or other life-prolonging treatment, again, is fine. But giving people a drug that will end their life crosses a line I am not willing to cross.

    That’s just my opinion.


  16. - Mary - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:38 pm:

    The unions should own up that they have a bit of a conflict of interest here given the costs associated with their health care plans.

    Their health plans would ordinarily have to support paying for health care to keep someone alive absent this kind of state legislation. The minute these are enacted into law, it becomes the policy of the health care plan, “terminal end of life is the standard of care.” Then it becomes, “we don’t have to pay for that health care you want to keep you alive, because our policies say you should be following end of life/assisted dying protocols.”

    Think this won’t happen? Go ask anyone who has had to handle getting services for a relative in a long-term care setting (I have) and see how much the Medicaid/Medicare rules discourage interventions and put you on a pathway to failure. (Current fight: getting oncology meds to be administered in a rehab facility. Relative was literally told, we either discharge you to home, where you can’t care for yourself if you want your cancer meds, or we can send you to rehab facility, but you can’t get your cancer meds dosed there, because these are the federal rules, and all the insurance co’s follow those rules for standards of care).


  17. - VK - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 12:53 pm:

    This is one of the few issues I am militant about supporting and I agree with their arguments. Is there the potential for abuse? Of course, but that is true for most things.

    It isn’t just about the very end. There are so many diseases and conditions that don’t just cause intense pain and suffering for their victims, but also give you the added trauma of doing it slowly and methodically. Removing the things that have made you, “you” for your entire life. They strip away your physical capacity, your mental acuity, personality, and your memories. They steal away the core of us piece by piece. The worst are when we know it’s happening. When we are aware something has taken a piece of ourselves and that it will come back and take something else from us soon.

    I do not believe there is any morality in looking at someone going through anything like that and telling them that they must suffer. No matter how much is taken from them or how badly they want it to end.

    It is wrong. There is no other way to say it. It’s just wrong.


  18. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:08 pm:

    Don’t support. Too fearful how death by spreadsheet could get worse if doctors and health insurers got in the assisted suicide business.

    Also mystified why AFL-CIO and CFL are even weighing in on this.


  19. - Glengarry - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:08 pm:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments and the opinion. People deserve the right to die with dignity.


  20. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===Too fearful how death by spreadsheet…===

    There is that, but I’m more concerned about relatives deciding to end a life to collect inheritance without additional healthcare costs eating into the estate.


  21. - HR Pufnstuf - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:27 pm:

    Having been in the room when each of my parents died and one grandparent I appreciate the position the unions are taking.

    We have an overwhelming fear of death in our culture–like any of us are getting out of this alive.

    While it’s not directly applicable one of Einstein’s last quotes comes to mind:

    Einstein refused surgery, saying, “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

    My mom died in home hospice and if I had had the means to end her life two days earlier I would have. Instead I had a tiny bottle of morphine which reduced, but didn’t eliminate her pain.

    After she died the second thing the hospice nurse did after she arrived was to take the remaining contents of the bottle and place it into something akin to kitty litter.

    Our fear of drugs at end of life being so strong.

    We fear overmedicating terminal patients.

    Also too many doctors view death as someone being a failure on their parts. When someone has lived nine decades and is in their tenth perhaps failure isn’t the right word.


  22. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:41 pm:

    I agree because I’ve seen a loved one die of terminal illness. I don’t hate anyone enough that I’d want to tell them they have to continue such suffering no matter what comes or how nonexistent their quality of life may be.
    I wonder if the people fretting here about cost decisions are aware that we already ration care in this system, and always have. There is no conceivable healthcare delivery system in which ‘rationing’ will not take place and hard decisions will not have to be made by people.


  23. - Route 50 Corridor - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===Too fearful how death by spreadsheet…===
    Now, now. Healthcare companies have little reason to cut short someone’s suffering. End of life care is pretty lucrative especially with grieving families who want to hold on. I would argue it is exactly the other way around. Sounds to me like the old “death panel argument,” which was nothing more than a scare tactic.


  24. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:54 pm:

    - the first rule is, do no harm. -

    Forcing someone to live in pain is doing harm.


  25. - sulla - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 1:57 pm:

    I fully agree.

    It’s a property rights issue. I am the owner of this 200 lb ambulatory sack of meat and if it’s time to leave the aforementioned behind, no government has the right to say otherwise.


  26. - JS Mill - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:00 pm:

    I totally agree with the AFL-CIO.

    As someone who has watched a love one that was terminally ill have their life unnecessarily extended due to modern medicine when it did not come with improvement in their quality of life, I know the pain it caused everyone and how badly they wanted to move on to the great unknown. Fully support the bill.


  27. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:03 pm:

    EB, this is from the Hippocratic Oath. I didn’t write it, so take it up with the physicians who took the oath.

    “With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage. Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so.”


  28. - OneMan - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:18 pm:

    As long as the medical professionals and others involved have protections from civil and criminal liability I am ok with this.

    I know a couple of folks who were with someone when they decided to do this (they had a brain tumor that had progressed significantly), and they commented that what they drank didn’t taste very good. They pointed out it is poison so I suppose it’s better it tastes bad…


  29. - H-W - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:19 pm:

    I agree with the position that individuals who are of sound mind ought and who are diagnosed to have a terminal condition, should to be able to decide whether or not to end their life. Obviously, there are a lot of caveats we might consider. But in principle, I agree with the position taken on the end of life argument.

    Personally, my worst fear as a father of several children is that my generational wealth might be dissolved by medical procedures that (a) prolong my life, without (b) extending my life. I do not wish that my family’s assets be turned over to a hospital.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the carte blanche assertion that unions have always been a the forefront of positive social change. Sometimes, we (union members) have been the bearers of inequality.


  30. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:47 pm:

    - EB, this is from the Hippocratic Oath -

    You might want to do a little research on that oath, it’s undergone a few changes and interpretations over the years.


  31. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:48 pm:

    I’m aware of the changes. It remains the backbone of medical ethics nonetheless.


  32. - Flapdoodle - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:48 pm:

    At bottom, the unions are saying they enhance workers’ abilities to shape their own lives, make their own choices. This is part of what creates a free society, the right to decide for oneself how to live one’s life. Why should this right suddenly be removed when confronted with an irremediable incapacitating condition or incurable terminal disease? I see no more justification for removing one’s right to chose their own course at the end of their life than there is for telling people how they should live any other time, tout court. Freedom is, or it is not.


  33. - Manchester - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:55 pm:

    I am 100% in support of this. I sat with my sister at the end of her Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had spread to her colon and her spine. The meds given by hospice weren’t nearly enough to ease her pain. We treat our pets better than that.


  34. - Pundent - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 2:55 pm:

    I’m in agreement with the union. Like many others I’ve witnessed this firsthand. In my experience and those I know who’ve had similar experiences, this is a compassionate approach to end of life decisions. I appreciate the slippery slope arguments and concerns regarding those with malicious intent, but guardrails can address these issues. No one should be made to needlessly suffer at the end of their life.


  35. - Poli-fact - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:32 pm:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the union’s stance on this.

    To correct a few mischaracterizations: First, there are safeguards in the bill. No one can be coerced into taking this option. It is literally a felony in the bill. So insurance companies, doctors, family members, power of attorney’s, etc. can’t force anyone to choose this option. Like others noted, this is an option for those with a terminal illness with 6 months or less to live, nothing more.

    Second, there has never been a case of abuse of this system in the many years it has been legal elsewhere.

    Finally, I think it is great for the unions to weigh in. It seems to be a strategy to sway some of the more moderate Dems. This would give them a better permission structure to vote yes.


  36. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:37 pm:

    - It remains the backbone of medical ethics nonetheless. -

    A lot of doctors must not consider providing life ending doses of painkillers to terminally ill patients to be a violation, because as I stated above that takes place every single day.


  37. - Palamite - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:38 pm:

    No one who would want to end their own life is of sound state of mind.


  38. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:43 pm:

    ===A lot of doctors must not consider providing life ending doses of painkillers to terminally ill patients to be a violation, because as I stated above that takes place every single day.===

    Yes. But I’d hope we could understand the difference between prescribing a potentially fatal dose of pain killer and a drug intended to end a patient’s life. Both enable the patient to choose to end their life, but only one is designed to end that life.

    Is that splitting hairs? Maybe. But all ethical questions come down to splitting hairs.


  39. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:53 pm:

    Palamite, unless you can produce a psychiatric degree, confine your observations to yourself.


  40. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:12 pm:

    - potentially fatal dose -

    There’s nothing potential about it.


  41. - clec dcn - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:14 pm:

    Cannot support euthanasia. it leads to other complications. Keep them out of pain for sure with whatever can help; however, we cannot go further than that.


  42. - Waldi1 - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:24 pm:

    Yes - I agree people should have the right to make this decision (and I am of sound mind). We can’t predict how we will die, although it’s inevitable. Personally, I would opt for euthanasia before choosing long term pain or a drug induced vegetative state. That should be my right - it’s my life and death.


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