Victoria passes euthanasia bill, becomes first Australian state to legalise assisted dying

By @chelean on
euthanasia
Doctor Stephane Mercier, Head of the palliative care unit, visits a patient at the palliative care unit of the AP-HP Paul-Brousse Hospital in Villejuif near Paris March 4, 2015. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Victoria is now the first Australian state to legalise euthanasia for the terminally ill. The Voluntary Assisted Dying bill passed in the lower house 46 to 37 on Tuesday after hours of debate and amendment ratifications.

The bill will now go to the Governor for royal assent. Terminal patients in Victoria will have the right to request a lethal drug to end their lives from June 2019.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he was proud that the state has passed the historic bill, praising his colleagues for working on it. Health Minister Jill Hennessy said they would begin the first steps in implementing the assisted dying scheme on Thursday.

“We’ve had some frustrating moments, but ultimately we have landed in a place where Victorians who are confronted terminal illnesses, that are enduring unbearable pains, will have a safe and compassionate option around assisted dying,” she said, adding that the more than 100 hours of debate allowed the Parliament to learn what a “good death looks like.”

Under the bill, terminal patients will be able to obtain a lethal drug within 10 days of request. They would undergo a three-step process that would involve two independent medical assessments. To be eligible, they must be over 18 years old, of sound mind, a Victorian resident for at least 12 months, and in extreme physical suffering described as “cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.”

Some of the amendments to the bill included the timeframe for eligible patients changed from 12 months to six months to live. Sufferers of conditions like motor neurone disease and who have a life expectancy of 12 months are exempted.

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