2020 Ryan Bioethicist speaker, Thaddeus Pope to focus on "Medical Aid in Dying: Assessing the Illinois Patient Choices at End of Life Act"

February 19, 2020 , by Pete Rosenbery

pope_thaddeus.pngCARBONDALE, Ill. — A presentation that assesses why a proposal that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain medical assistance to end their lives should be passed by the Illinois General Assembly is the focus of the 2020 John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist in Residence lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Thaddeus Mason Pope, director of the Health Law Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, will present “Medical Aid in Dying: Assessing the Illinois Patient Choices at End of Life Act.” 

The lecture is at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the SIU School of Law in Carbondale. The lecture is free and the public is welcome.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the Ryan Bioethicist in Residence lecture with Thaddeus Mason Pope at 5 p.m., Feb. 26, in the SIU School of Law courtroom. For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Mike Ruiz, assistant dean for career, alumni, and promotional services at mikeruiz@siu.edu or 618/453-8763. For the 9 a.m., Feb. 27 lecture in Springfield, contact Rikeesha Phelon, director of marketing and communications, SIU School of Medicine, at rphelon64@siumed.edu or 217/545-3854.

Among nation’s top-cited health law scholars

Pope is a foremost expert on medical law and clinical ethics with a special focus on patient rights and healthcare decision-making. He has more than 220 publications in leading medical journals, bioethics journals and law reviews. He is co-author of the definitive treatise “The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking” and his “Medical Futility Blog” has more than 4 million page views.

“Terminally ill individuals in Illinois do not have the option of Medical Aid in Dying which would permit a physician to prescribe a lethal medication that the patient could self-administer,” Pope said.

There are several ways in which terminally ill individuals in Illinois can control the timing and manner of death, Pope said. They include:

  • Refusing life-sustaining interventions such as CPR, dialysis or mechanical ventilation.
  • Refusing potentially curative or life-prolonging interventions like chemotherapy.
  • Receiving palliative sedation to unconsciousness.

Other states permit Medical Aid in Dying

Presently, nine states, along with the District of Columbia, have Medical Aid in Dying laws. Pope said that Illinois advocates and Evanston-area legislators are laying the groundwork to introduce legislation in 2021.

The nine states with Medical Aid in Dying legislation on the books are: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. There are expectations that Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York could also enact laws this year, Pope said.

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