29 Nov 2017

Victoria legalises euthanasia

5:37 pm on 29 November 2017

Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill, with MPs voting to give patients the right to request a lethal drug to end their lives from mid-2019.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The bill will now go to the Governor for royal assent.

After more than 100 hours of debate across both houses of Parliament and two demanding all-night sittings, Lower House MPs ratified the Andrews Government's amended bills.

Premier Daniel Andrews, who came to support euthanasia after the death of his father last year, paid tribute to colleagues including Health Minister Jill Hennessy for their work on the bill.

"I'm proud today that we have put compassion right at the centre of our parliamentary and our political process," he said.

The landmark legislation passed the Upper House 22 votes to 18 last week after a number of amendments, which had to be approved by the Lower House to be enshrined in law.

Lower House MPs voted 47 to 37 in favour of the original voluntary euthanasia bill last month.

Ms Hennessy said the lengthy debate had given the Parliament the opportunity consider what a "good death looks like".

"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 work to bring the scheme into effect in mid-2019 would begin tomorrow.

Opponents of the legislation made a last-minute bid to block the legislation by proposing to defer debate indefinitely on Tuesday, but the motion was lost 46 votes to 37.

Under the legislation, Victorians with a terminal illness will be able to obtain a lethal drug within 10 days of asking to die, after completing a three-step process involving two independent medical assessments.

They must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months and be suffering in a way that "cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable".

The patient must administer the drug themselves, but a doctor can deliver the lethal dose in rare cases where someone was physically unable to end their own life.

The legislation includes 68 safeguards, including new criminal offences to protect vulnerable people from abuse and coercion, and a special board to review all cases.


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