Nov 23, 2017

Assisted Dying Passes Upper House in Victoria: One Step Away from Becoming Law

After a marathon meeting that lasted 28 hours, Victoria’s assisted dying bill has passed the Upper House.

This puts Victoria on the verge of becoming the first Australian state to legalise voluntary euthanasia, once the bill returns to the Lower House next week for ratification before becoming law.

It was passed in the upper house with 22 votes for, and 18 votes against. Those who were in support included four Liberals, five Greens and votes from the Reason Party’s Fiona Patten and Vote 1 Local Jobs Party MP James Purcell.

The bill personally moved many of the MP’s, as some reportedly wept as the gave in their votes.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ supported assisted dying following the death of his own father after a long battle with cancer.

“Today’s all about emotion, and it’s all about compassion,” he said.

“It’s about providing for those who have for too long been denied a compassionate end the control, the power over the last phase of their journey.

“It’s about giving to them that control.”

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.

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The bill was given to the upper house after a number of amendments were made just a little more than a week ago.

The amendments included changing the timeframe during which a person can apply for the service – terminal patients in severe pain with a life expectancy of six months or less, while the timeframe remains at 12 months for patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

It should be noted that it is because of these of these amendments, that the bill has to be returned to the Lower House.

Though some people fear that this new potential law could manipulate, the legislation includes 68 “safeguards” to protect the vulnerable. This includes new criminal offences to protect people from abuse and coercion and a special board to review all cases.

Once passed in the Lower House again, the laws should come into effect in 2019.

The law will require 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.

What the legislation will allow for is terminally ill Victorians to be able to obtain a lethal drug within 10 days of a request to die.

The request is a three step process, that involves two independent medical assessments.

Once the person obtains the lethal drug, it is expected that they administer it themselves, and only have a doctor administer it in situations where they cannot physically do it themselves.

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