'Compassionate' Victoria becomes first state to legalise euthanasia

Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 08:52:04 AM. Assisted dying will become a reality in Victoria from mid-2019, as opponents of euthanasia fail in a last-minute bid to stop the bill passing Parliament.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews embraces Health Minister Jill Hennessy in Victoria's Parliament. Photo: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews embraces Health Minister Jill Hennessy during the bills 100-hour plus progress through Parliament. (AAP: Julian Smith)

Victoria has become the first state in the country to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill, with MPs voting to give patients the right to request a lethal drug to end their lives from mid-2019.

After more than 100 hours of debate across both houses of Parliament and two demanding all-night sittings, Lower House MPs ratified the Andrews Government's amended bills.

The bill will now go to the Governor for royal assent.

External Link: Factcheck tweet: Assisted dying laws have been debated in the NSW & Vic parls this week. Here's Del Irani with the facts on the 'slippery slope'

Premier Daniel Andrews, who came to support euthanasia after the death of his father last year, paid tribute to colleagues, including Health Minister Jill Hennessy, for their work on the bill.

"I'm proud today that we have put compassion right at the centre of our parliamentary and our political process," he said.

"That is politics at its best and it's Victoria doing what it does best — leading our nation."

The landmark legislation passed the Upper House 22 votes to 18 last week after a number of amendments, which had to be approved by the Lower House to be enshrined in law.

Lower House MPs voted 47 to 37 in favour of the original voluntary euthanasia bill last month.

The changes included halving the timeframe for eligible patients to access the scheme from 12 months to six months to live.

There will be exemptions for sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis who have a life expectancy of 12 months.

The Andrews Government also pledged to spend $62 million over five years on end of life and palliative care.

New criminal offences to protect the vulnerable

Opponents of the legislation made a last-minute bid to block the legislation by proposing to defer debate indefinitely on Tuesday, but the motion was lost 46 votes to 37.

Government minister Natalie Hutchins missed the vote because she was attending her husband's funeral in New South Wales and was not granted a pair.

External Link: Twitter Jill Hennessy: Victoria... the compassionate state.

Under the legislation, Victorians with a terminal illness will be able to obtain a lethal drug within 10 days of asking to die, after completing a three-step process involving two independent medical assessments.

They must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months and be suffering in a way that "cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable".

The patient must administer the drug themselves, but a doctor can deliver the lethal dose in rare cases where someone was physically unable to end their own life.

The legislation includes 68 safeguards, including new criminal offences to protect vulnerable people from abuse and coercion, and a special board to review all cases.

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