The Australian State of Victoria has legalised assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.
The Bill to legalise assisted suicide passed by just four votes in the upper house of Victoria’s parliament.
The law will come into force next year and apply to terminally ill people with an estimated life expectancy of six months.
‘Duty to die’
The move comes 22 years after the Northern Territory enacted the world’s first assisted suicide law in 1995. The Australian Parliament overturned the law just two years later.
In the days leading up to the vote, parliamentarians and campaigners warned against a change in the law, during more than 100 hours of debate.
… a disgraceful substitute for palliative care
In a speech to the lower house of the Victoria parliament, MLA Robert Clark said the law “will be used to the disadvantage of hundreds of elderly, frail people who will see the so-called ‘right to die’ as the ‘duty to die’.”
Clark also pointed out that the state of Victoria is woefully inadequate in its provision of palliative care.
He said: “10,000 Victorians dying each year without proper palliative care and pain relief. The rush to make suicide pills for the terminally ill available at chemists is a disgraceful substitute for palliative care.”
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, also accused the Victoria government of sanctioning assisted suicide as an alternative to good end-of-life care.
Three of Australia’s six states have sought to introduce assisted suicide in recent years. An attempt in New South Wales last month was defeated.