Historic assisted dying bill passes Victorian upper house

Paul Hayes

23/11/2017 8:52:22 AM

Victoria is on the verge of becoming the first state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying, with the state’s upper house yesterday voting in favour of the amended bill following a marathon 28-hour parliamentary sitting.

Eligible patients are expected to be able to access voluntary assisted dying by 2019.
Eligible patients are expected to be able to access voluntary assisted dying by 2019.

In a culmination to what has been a drawn-out and often contentious debate, the Victorian Government’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the 40-person upper house by a vote of a vote of 22–18.
The fact the bill was passed with a number amendments means it must now return to the lower house next week before being ratified to officially become law. Amendments include halving the timeframe for eligible patients from 12 months to live to six months to live, and the scheme will contain exemptions for sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, who will be able to access the scheme in their final 12 months.
While doctors will prescribe substances used for assisted dying, the substances themselves will be administered by the patient (unless they are unable to do so). Doctors will retain their rights as conscientious objectors who may refuse to provide information, prescribe or administer any substances. The bill features other specific stipulations:

  • The discussion/suggestion about voluntary assisted dying cannot be initiated by a doctor.
  • Two doctors must assess whether a patient is eligible before approving the process.
  • Patients must make two formal requests, plus a written statement.
Those eligible under the proposed legislation will include Victorian people with an incurable illness who have lived in the state for a minimum of 12 months, who are over the age of 18, of sound mind, and who are suffering in a way that ‘cannot be relieved in a manner the person considers tolerable’. The bill also has a number of safeguards, including criminal offences to protect vulnerable patients from ‘abuse or coercion’.
Once it passes the lower house, the bill is expected to become law by 2019.

Victorian-Government voluntary-assisted-dying

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