Second hurdle cleared for assisted dying in Victoria

Medical politics

By Mardi Chapman

9 Nov 2017

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 has been passed by the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament leaving just one step through a committee process remaining before it becomes law.

The Legislative Assembly passed the Bill, which aims to provide terminally ill people with choice over the timing and manner of their death, on 20 October and the Legislative Council on 3 November.

The progress of the contentious bill has stirred the Northern Territory to demand back the right to make their own laws – a right removed 20 years ago in order to overturn their ground-breaking euthanasia laws.

Meanwhile supporters of voluntary assisted dying in New South Wales see the win in Victoria as a good omen for their own bill due to be debated soon.

Like the Victorian Bill, the NSW Bill is purported to follow the conservative Oregon model of voluntary assisted dying rather than the European models of voluntary euthanasia.

Despite consistent evidence that the community largely supports voluntary assisted dying, health professions are holding firm – arguing patients receiving high-quality palliative care very rarely request to die.

Federal AMA president Dr Michael Gannon has said voluntary assisted dying laws would be ‘a negative move for our society’.

“It would be a victory for fear over hope, and would in no way enhance the provision of quality end-of-life care,” he wrote in a statement.

“While not all our members agree, the AMA opposes any interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.”

Dr Carol Douglas, president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative

Medicine (ANZSPM), has previously told the limbic she would like to see more effort directed to implementing the other 48 recommendations from the Victorian Inquiry into End of Life Choices. Voluntary assisted dying was the 49th recommendation.

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