Victoria’s new assisted dying laws one week away

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Pharmacists from The Alfred hospital in Melbourne will mix and deliver the lethal doses when Victoria’s assisted dying legislation comes into effect in one week.

The three pharmacists will mix the cocktail of legal drugs and personally deliver the 100ml doses to approved terminally ill people.

The legislation, described as the most conservative in the world with 68 inbuilt safeguards, allows terminally ill adults who can show they have only about six months to live and meet other criteria, to access the lethal substance from 19 June.

Australia’s first voluntary euthanasia laws were passed in Victoria in November 2017. Assisted dying was legal for a period in the Northern Territory and, in 2013 and 2017, Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia debated and failed to pass assisted dying legislation.

A terminally ill person must initiate the assisted dying request themselves and two doctors must find that person is eligible to make the request. He or she then needs to make three separate requests to end their life and meet other stringent criteria.

Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told The Age: “No matter where they [the terminally ill patients] are in Victoria, [the pharmacists] will dispense the medication to them. If there is any medication remaining, they will collect that and take it back.

“Under certain circumstances, those physically incapable of swallowing will be allowed to take the substance as a lethal intravenous drip set up by a doctor.”

Describing the final moments, the report said those choosing to end their lives would be given medication to relax and reduce any chance of regurgitation before they take the dose “which will cause unconsciousness within minutes and a peaceful, pain-free death soon after”.

Eighty-nine doctors across Victoria have begun compulsory training to gain the necessary accreditation to assist terminally ill patients wishing to die when the laws come into effect.

Ballarat Health palliative care physician Dr Greg Mewett has registered as a doctor prepared to assess a patient.

He told The Age: “There’s a small percentage of patients with advanced and incurable illness that currently don’t have an option if they have reached the limits of their suffering.

“For patients who aren’t able to relieve their suffering in any other way, it’s not an issue between life and death. These people are already proceeding towards death sooner rather than later.

“It’s about reaching the limits of your suffering and deciding how you will die and under what circumstances.”

About 150 Victorians per year are expected to make use of euthanasia laws, although that number could be as low as 12 in the first 12 months, the Health Minister said.

Ms Mikakos said she was confident the scheme was safe and compassionate, and would provide people with relief from intolerable suffering at the end of life.

“I see this as being one of the most important things I will be involved in during my time as health minister and I’m very conscious of the weight of responsibility to get this right.”

She said a Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board had been established to review each case.

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 46
  1. 0

    I wonder what the charges for the service will be? If a person can’t afford them, will they have to die suffering?

    I am all for euthanasia this is a step in the right direction.

  2. 0

    Can South Australia please catch up with the rest of the world and bring in Assisted Dying Laws. It seems Nursing Homes are big big business. Kaching kaching. I personally want quality not quantity of life.

  3. 0

    It should be available to all adults, irrespective of their medical condition. I consider it is my life not the governments, not the doctors, mine.
    If I was to be given a choice between euthanaisa and a nursing home I would not accept the nursing home.
    If the choice was given to all adults, I feel sure the number of suicides and botched suicides would drop dramatically.
    I have my plan in place.

    • 0

      It is also not the life of those with religious beliefs to dictate to others how they live or choose to die. They are entitled to their beliefs but not entitled to force those beliefs onto others.

    • 0

      It is also not the life of those with religious beliefs to dictate to others how they live or choose to die. They are entitled to their beliefs but not entitled to force those beliefs onto others.

    • 0

      I agree with you,Ahjay. We need to catch up with Belgium which has voluntary euthanasia for all ages.

    • 0

      Ahjay, I agree, the service should be available to all adults, not just the dying.

      The Government no longer wants to care for the mentaly ill, the homeless and the poor.

      Dangerous repeat offenders could benefit from it too.

    • 0

      Too right Ahjay, so I will keep nurturing my oleander and caster oil plants (although they are not the ideal method to use, fatality cannot be guaranteed). I already have delivered to my home the means of ending it all, electricity, water and gas. If only I could go to my local pharmacy…… dream on.

  4. 0

    Congrats Victoria. You have put other States to shame. Will we who live elsewhere be able to zip to Vic for our dose if we need it?

    • 0

      Ny19, I am sure they will.

      That will encourage other states to bring it in when they see the all mighty dollar it can generate.

  5. 0

    My dad is in Queensland and is dying a very slow death and once again today he is being sent back to the residential aged care home vomiting, in pain, shaking and will once again be back in hospital in a coma within 5 days only to go through this all again. His system is full of cancer and is packing up and has an advance health directive. The part he didn’t fill out, and most people don’t, is in an emergency, what temporary measures would you like, because they say this is reversible, his wishes don’t count. If you have one, make sure you have filled this section out because you are more likely to have an emergency more often that your end of life situation.If I could afford to, I would have Dad admitted to a Victorian hospital and get the paperwork filled out. We all think we know what this is like, this is the second parent I’ve lost to cancer. Looking back, Mum fought for three years but in the end it was less than a week from being admitted to hospice and passing away. They just upped her morphine dose and she passed peacefully. That was in 1994. It amazes me that we have to fight for the right to die with dignity and peace. After all, death is not a question, its inevitable.

    • 0

      The whole problem seems to be that the cash flow to Big Pharma and the doctors stops when the patient dies.
      The best interests and the suffering and trauma of both the patient, family and loved ones are not taken into account.

    • 0

      Ted Wards, I am sorry to hear about your father’s suffering. I can’t understand why during these circumstances the dosage can’t be increased with the family’s permission.

      I watched my brother suffer dying and complained to his doctor that my cat had a better death. The doctor asked if I would like the dose increased for him and five minutes later my brother was at peace.

  6. 0

    I agree that all of us should have the choice as to when and how we choose to end our life. I have seen too many friends and family suffer in pain, unable to do anything except beg for a higher dose of something to ease the suffering.

    Reading the new laws that Victoria has enacted, I wonder if they are actually workable. An applicant must have 6 months or less to live before they can apply, have the initial request approved by two doctors and then re-apply twice. There are 68 safeguards to ensure that the applicant must be absolutely certain that they want to end their life. Knowing how government departments work, the question has to be asked if all of the criteria can be met before Nature has intervened.

    • 0

      Old Man, everything has to start somewhere. I am sure they will improve the procedure with further experience.

      Yes, Victoria has made it complicated because they have to appease all the religious fanatics that are against euthanasia, abortions, same-sex relationships, IVF, body transplants and etc.

    • 0

      And if Nature doesnt intervene, going thru all those bureaucratic procedures will !!

  7. 0

    can the rest of australia catch up with vic

  8. 0

    If the gutless wonders that we elect to govern our country wont pass legislation to allow people to die with dignity put it to a referendum. Seems they have forgotten what their job is Government For The People By The People. In other words listen to what people are saying.

    • 0

      Wake Up, all governments these days globally do not work for the people but big business.

      All they do is fool the people with lies to prevent mass revolt.

      Democracy is an illusion.

    • 0

      There are only 2 types of democracies, the representative and the direct. there is only one direct democracy ,to the best of my knowledge and that’s, Switzerland. Is that where you are moving to?

  9. 0

    There is a much easier way to die then go through all that political “assistance”.

  10. 0

    Can you go to VIC.from another state to access this??

    • 0

      “Yes, but you need to be a resident of Victoria for 2 or 3 years before you can apply. You need to apply 3 different times….the process is arduous…meantime you might just die of frustration and the time it takes….at no greater financial cost…

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