Nov 15, 2017

Late Amendments to Victoria’s Assisted Dying Bill: Upper House Vote Days Away

Victoria may be days away from passing the Assisted Dying bill with a vote from the Upper House.  

However, there have been some last minute changes to the bill that could impact who the laws can apply to.

There was great hope for euthanasia supporters and advocates in late October, when the bill passed in the Lower House. 

At that time the bill applied to those who are suffering from “a serious and incurable condition and at the end of their life” and also required that the person is over 18 years of age, a Victorian resident and an Australian citizen.

Only those with decision-making capacity and are at the end stages of their life are qualified for assisted death.

However the new amendments have changed so that the laws apply to terminal patients in severe pain with a life expectancy of six months or less – previously it was 12 months.

But it should be noted that there are exceptions to this new rule – timeframe remains at 12 months for patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

This is at the suggestion of doctors who have explain that people with neurodegenerative diseases may not be able to give clear requests for assisted dying in a shortened time frame.

Another change includes allowing the manner of death to be recorded on the death certificate as assisted dying, but the cause will be recorded as the underlying terminal condition.

There were fears that Victoria’s potential new laws may lead to an increase of “death tourism” where people come temporarily to access the end-of-life service.

To prevent this, it is now a requirement that potential candidates have been a Victorian resident for at least 12 month (six months for those with neurodegenerative diseases).

The State Government have also promised $62 million in extra funding to palliative care.

It has been stated that this new funding will be allocated over a five-year period, along with a review of palliative care funding.

The changes to restrictions and funding have been made to sway undecided MPs – and it looks like the Bill will likely pass in the Upper House.

Previously against assisted dying, Premier Daniel Andrews’ views changed following the death of his own father after a long battle with cancer.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy is also supporting the bill, with her own personal family tragedy shaping her views – her mother’s life long battle with multiple sclerosis.

The vote is expected to happen as early as Thursday or possibly in a fortnight when Parliament next sits.

To pass, there needs to be 21 votes to get the laws through parliament – the latest reports say that the euthanasia bill currently has up to 20 votes likely in support.

Should the bill pass the Upper House, the law won’t come into effect until 2019.

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  1. The World Medical Association, representing more than 10 million physicians, wanted our politicians to block the Bill. https://www.wma.net/…/world-medical-association…/
    101 Victorian Oncologists (cancer specialists), requested politicians vote against the Bill http://www.noeuthanasia.org.au/101_vic_oncol_no
    107 Colleges (of physicians / GPs) worldwide are against Assisted Dying, with only 3 in favor.
    The Australian Medical Association says no. Daniel Andrews Bill is bad news.
    Last year, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) dealt with 6,620 complaints, yet only 26 practitioners were suspended and just 10 had their registrations cancelled. (7:30 Report, 17 July 2017 ] How could we expect Premier Daniel Andrew’s proposed Assisted Dying laws to have proper oversight in such an environment?

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