SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Senate approved a proposal Saturday that could protect people from prosecution if they seek medical attention for an opioid overdose.
Sponsors hope the bill can bring attention to the ongoing opioid epidemic in Illinois. The proposal ensures a probation sentence won’t be revoked if someone stays with the person overdosing to get help.
Democrats from Naperville introduced the measure to honor the life of Alex Green, a 25-year-old who overdosed. A friend dropped Alex off at a gas station. Then, they left the scene fearing they would be caught.
“If there are barriers, if there are things that are keeping people who can seek help from doing so, then people will die. This is to keep people alive,” said Sen. Laura Ellman (D-Naperville).
Bill Green, Alex’s father, told lawmakers in March that this legislation could have prevented his son from dying.
“If that person had actually gone into the gas station and said, ‘My friend is overdosing,’ he might still be here today. But that didn’t happen,” Green said through tears. “I ask you please make this a law.”
Republicans asked if people providing drugs to those overdosing can be prosecuted if they call for emergency assistance. Ellman explained that is not included in the proposal.
Senators passed the bill on a 40-16 vote. It now heads back to the House for approval of an amendment before it can go to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk.
“Friends, strangers and passersby need to know that it’s always safe to help someone in distress, so they may see those they love at least one more day,” Green said.
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