Victoria’s parliament has passed laws to make voluntary assisted dying for the terminally ill legal in the state.
The lower house passed the amended legislation today, which will allow people to seek a lethal drug to end their lives from June 2019.
The Victorian legislation comes after two all-night sittings of parliament and more than 100 hours of debate over the controversial bill from the Andrews Labor government. A last minute attempt by a Liberal MP to defy debate yesterday was defeated this morning to allow the bill to pass.
The laws were originally passed 47-37 before they went to the upper house where several amendments were introduced and they were passed last week in a 22-18 vote. Among the changes, the scheme will now only be available to people doctors diagnose as having less than six months to live – half the original proposed time frame.
There are some exemptions for debilitating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
A terminally ill patient must over 18, have lived in Victoria for at least a year and be of sound mind when they ask to die because they are suffering intolerable pain.
They will need two independent medical assessments and must administer the lethal dose themselves, although a doctor may assist if they are physically incapable.
Here is the government’s list of the some of the amendments added to the legislation.
A person must have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months before being able to make a request
A person with a mental illness must be referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment
The assessing doctor must encourage the person to inform their regular doctor of their intention to access voluntary assisted dying, if the assessing doctor is not the person’s regular doctor
The contact person is required to return any unused voluntary assisted dying substance within 15 days (not 30)
The Review Board has a role to follow up with the contact person to advise on the safe return of any unused medication
The coroner will be informed of voluntary assisted dying deaths
Death certificates for people who have chosen voluntary assisted dying will record the manner of death as voluntary assisted dying.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was an overdue reform.
“For too long, we have denied, to too many, the compassion, the control, the power that should be theirs, should be theirs in those final moments of their life,” he said.
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) November 29, 2017
Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy the government had consulted with MPs, the community, health, palliative care and legal sectors over the legislation.
“After two and a half years of hard work and consideration by so many in our Parliament, the passing of the Bill will finally give Victorians more control, compassion and support at the end of their lives,” she said.
Victoria becomes the first state to legalise voluntary euthanasia after the NSW parliament considered similar laws earlier this month but they were defeated in the upper house. Private members bills in South Australia and Tasmania in recent years were also rejected by their respective parliaments.
A previous attempt by the Northern Territory to introduce voluntary euthanasia in 1995 was overturned by the federal government 20 years ago.
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