Victoria’s new assisted dying laws one week away

Pharmacists will mix and deliver the lethal dose.

pharmacist mixing

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.

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    10:21am
    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.
    Theo1943
    12th Jun 2019
    10:37am
    Tell them to send you the bill. :-)
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    11:52am
    Theo1943, That would be nice but business is business and always comes with a price tag.
    KSS
    12th Jun 2019
    2:55pm
    So the law gives you the right to die but the costs prevents you from accessing the means!
    ex PS
    13th Jun 2019
    6:46am
    Jackie, I would have thought that after decades of paying taxes, and considering what it costs to keep us going for medical care, it would be both fair and cost effective for the government to bear the costs.
    What is the cost of a few drugs delivered to the door compared to a month in Intensive Care waiting to die?
    Anonymous
    14th Jun 2019
    6:35pm
    why worry..goodness me!!
    My choice Adelaide
    12th Jun 2019
    10:35am
    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.
    Wake Up
    12th Jun 2019
    11:29am
    Don't hold your breath with some of the idiots we have in Parliament in this state. I think some of them enjoy seeing us suffer.
    Ahjay
    12th Jun 2019
    10:54am
    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.
    Tom Tank
    12th Jun 2019
    11:10am
    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.
    Tom Tank
    12th Jun 2019
    11:10am
    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.
    Triss
    12th Jun 2019
    11:18am
    I agree with you,Ahjay. We need to catch up with Belgium which has voluntary euthanasia for all ages.
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:01pm
    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.
    Eddy
    12th Jun 2019
    12:18pm
    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.
    Ny19
    12th Jun 2019
    11:16am
    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?
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:06pm
    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.
    Ted Wards
    12th Jun 2019
    11:26am
    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.
    Ahjay
    12th Jun 2019
    11:55am
    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.
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:13pm
    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.

    12th Jun 2019
    11:36am
    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.
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:30pm
    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.
    johnp
    15th Jun 2019
    7:34am
    And if Nature doesnt intervene, going thru all those bureaucratic procedures will !!
    johnp
    12th Jun 2019
    11:50am
    can the rest of australia catch up with vic
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    6:57pm
    Nah, it's too cosy wasting time in the pub.
    Wake Up
    12th Jun 2019
    12:09pm
    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.
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:35pm
    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.
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    6:56pm
    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?
    Priscilla
    12th Jun 2019
    12:26pm
    There is a much easier way to die then go through all that political "assistance".
    jackie
    12th Jun 2019
    12:35pm
    Priscilla, not everyone is brave enough to suicide.
    BERRYUPSET
    12th Jun 2019
    12:33pm
    Can you go to VIC.from another state to access this??
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    1:01pm
    "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...
    KSS
    12th Jun 2019
    12:43pm
    "The three pharmacists will mix the cocktail of legal drugs and personally deliver the 100ml doses to approved terminally ill people."

    So these three pharmacists from The Alfred Hospital in the centre of Melbourne will be flying round the state delivering lethal doses of drugs. Who pays for all the travel, flights, taxis, etc?
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    1:02pm
    YOU will !!!
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    12:57pm
    The other States are behind times on this matter.
    Diogenes
    12th Jun 2019
    3:17pm
    As a doctor I am doing the required study and becoming one of the assessing and recommending doctors for this much needed service. I am no great lover of labor governments but I must commend our State government ( though I have a plethora of other concerns about them) on this legislation and the multiple safe guards. They are to be lauded for this great initiative and I applaud them as long time supporter of euthanasia and abortion. I agree with with so many of the posts here, it is an individual's right, to seek and end to life when it is no longer tolerable , and suffering is unbearable. The oath I took was not to save life no matter what , it was to relieve suffering. My only concern would be if they have a treatable illness such as depression, but this is most likely over ridden by the fact that the patients concerned have a terminal physical illness anyway. I know if and when my time comes I will be choosing this option.
    KB
    12th Jun 2019
    4:28pm
    In SA on the health care directive form you can request not to be resuscitated .
    KB
    12th Jun 2019
    4:28pm
    In SA on the health care directive form you can request not to be resuscitated .
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    6:51pm
    In NSW the hospital will ring the nearest relative and ask the question, " Do you want us to do more or just make the patient comfortable? ".....
    shirboy
    12th Jun 2019
    5:17pm
    I was told by a doctor many years ago that the easy way to "go out" was to take a few blood pressure pills & bingo !
    Arvo
    12th Jun 2019
    6:48pm
    ...and the funeral parlour business owner yelled out , "Bingo! ...another one bites the dust..."
    DM
    12th Jun 2019
    8:40pm
    Ahjay I sooo agree with you !

    I do NOT want to live in a full care facility and be spoon fed and ...."wiped" !!

    My body, my life, ... MY CHOICE !!
    Blossom
    13th Jun 2019
    12:02am
    I know a lady who was against it until she did voluntary visits to terminally ill people. She told us that sometimes the painkillers do not work and patients are in agony for months. Even a patient who is in a heavy sleep or unconscious will wriggle around when they are in pain. They may even regain consciousness and wake up crying. I have personally witnessed it with a family member. Really elderly people who develop kidney failure suffer pain and no quality of life.
    ex PS
    13th Jun 2019
    6:41am
    It seems that the general consensus is that it should be left to the rational individual to decide when their useful life has met its end, and make the decision to terminate it. We need to find politicians that will pursue this agenda for us.
    I do hope some start putting their hats in the ring, the latest legislation is a start, but we have a way to go.
    Farside
    13th Jun 2019
    11:03am
    The medical funds should be able to fund this. It could even be a win-win ... use an actuary table to forecast cost of medical care without intervention, split the difference with the patient and patient can easily afford the drugs. The real question is why should people have to wait until they are at death's door before having access to the exit pill.
    johnp
    13th Jun 2019
    11:09am
    Reckon both levels of Govts would be keen on this; esp current libs whereby they gain by getting pensioners off the books !! :-)
    Also someone I know was told by their doctor he had terminal illness and six months to live. When my friend said he didnt have quite enough yet to pay the doctors bill, the doctor extended that to 12 months. !! ;-)
    musicveg
    17th Jun 2019
    3:09am
    I am interested to know what the "legal" drugs they are using to mix up the concoction?