Victoria passes assisted dying laws

Victoria’s Parliament has passed voluntary euthanasia laws. The new rules regarding assisted dying will take effect from June 2019.

This monumental achievement has finally seen politicians manage to legislate on a difficult issue that has overwhelming community support. Some polls suggest that up to 80 per cent of Australians support voluntary euthanasia, yet it has been a long road to get to this day.

Greens MP Colleen Hartland introduced the first ever assisted dying bill into the Victorian Parliament 10 years ago.

While that bill wasn’t successful, she worked tirelessly to keep the issue on the agenda and was constantly reminding the parliament that it was lagging behind community opinion on the issue.

Last year the Labor Government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, finally agreed to introduce dying with dignity legislation and after months of debate, including a 28-hour session to pass through the upper house last week, the law was eventually passed.

Soon, terminally ill Victorians will finally get to take control of the final chapter of their lives and have the choice of a peaceful death.

The laws will not come into effect for well over a year, however. There are good reasons for the delay, though. Politicians have explained that doctors throughout the state need to be trained on what the new laws mean and how they are to be applied. That process will take some time.

While it is still unknown what type of drug will be administered, Victorians will be able to access some type of lethal drug after passing a three-step process involving two independent medical assessments.

Patients must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and have lived in Victoria for at least one year.

They must also be suffering in a way that “cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable”.

The patient must administer the drug themselves, but in some cases where that may not be possible, a doctor may be asked to do so.

The legislation also includes 68 measures to prevent vulnerable people from being coerced or abused, including criminal offences and a board that will review all cases.

Do you believe the other states should follow Victoria’s lead? What are your thoughts on voluntary euthanasia?

(correction: ‘Victoria’s Parliament has passed Australia’s first voluntary euthanasia laws’ changed to ‘Victoria’s Parliament has passed voluntary euthanasia laws. The new rules regarding assisted dying will take effect from June 2019.’)

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Written by Ben

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