Aug 07, 2017

Assisted Dying Laws, MPs to Vote Later This Month

The debate for Victoria’s upcoming assisted dying bill is getting heated with the vote to happen later this month.

The bill is being championed by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, who announced in July that he would introduce an assisted dying bill to Parliament.

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

Andrews told Fairfax media that he hoped “that this debate is conducted in the spirit of respect. My own conscience tells me that this is the change that needs to be made.”

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.

“It’s an incredible paradox because you want your mum to stay alive forever but it’s awful when you watch a person in torturous pain, whose life is not what they’d want it to be and you can’t legally do anything to help,” Hennessy told the The Sunday Age in 2016.

Those who oppose include Deputy Premier James Merlino, telling the Herald Sun that “this bill also endorses suicide, which is a line I don’t think our ­society should cross.”

“I have deep concerns that these laws put at risk some of our most vulnerable Victorians, who could be subjected to coercion,” he said.

Lobbying against the bill are anti-euthanasia groups such as Right to Life, the Australian Christian Lobby and HOPE who are participating in letter writing campaigns and travelling to meet and swap MPs .

Australian Christian Lobby state president Dan Flynn brought in three doctors to see upper house leader Gavin Jennings to argue the need for better palliative care.

Dying With Dignity’s Dr Rodney Syme doesn’t believe that it has to be a choice between assisted dying and palliative care, telling HelloCare that he believes it will “enhance palliative care”.

“People would be more accepting of palliative care if they knew they had options,” he said.

Similar laws were previously passed in the Northern Territory in 1995, but was later overturned by the federal parliament in 1997.

What the upcoming Victorian bill proposes is that those who are suffering from “a serious and incurable condition and at the end of their life” will be allowed seek voluntary euthanasia.

It is 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.

Though the vote is set for later this month, should the laws be passed, the new laws would not come into effect until 2019.

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