Stephanie Packer was 32 years old and a mother of four when she was diagnosed with scleroderma, a rare condition that involves the hardening and tightening of the tissue. 

It often affects the skin, but Stephanie had scleroderma in her lungs. Her doctor described it as her lungs ‘turning to stone’ and she was given three years to live.

That was in 2012. 

In 2015, California passed the End of Life Option Act

A week after the law passed, Stephanie received a letter from her insurer that told her that her life-extending treatments would no longer be covered.

However, the Californian assisted suicide law prevents insurers from denying insurance coverage for treatment in the same communication as it includes information related to coverage for assisted suicide. The patient has to request the information from the insurer.

Stephanie phoned the insurer to ask what happened. She was told that while her insurer would no longer cover her chemotherapy, it would cover assisted suicide drugs for a payment of $1.20.

“It almost forces the poor people, the sick people, the scared people, the people who are alone; it almost forces them to kill themselves because what other choices are they given?” said Stephanie.

“When California passed this law, they took away my choice to live.”

Stephanie’s thoughts went straight to her four young children and how they would live without their mother. “I would do anything to spend one more day, one more moment, with my children,” she said.

Stephanie didn’t die in 2015 as predicted. She is still alive and issued a plea specifically to NSW MPs: “Vote against this because it’s not about compassion, it’s about saving money… Euthanasia and assisted suicide are always the cheapest option.”

She also issued a warning to the NSW public. “You don’t want what happened to me to happen to your wife, to happen to your mum, to happen to your daughter… New South Wales, you do not want to go down this path.”