Victoria legalise voluntary euthanasia allowing people to choose when they end their lives

Victoria legalise voluntary euthanasia allowing people to choose when they end their lives

Voluntary euthanasia will become legal in Victoria on Wednesday, making it Australia's only state to allow people to choose when they end their lives.

The country's only assisted-dying scheme was passed last year by state parliament, following more than 100 hours of debate, and will be accessible only to terminally ill Victorian adults with less than six months to live.

It's the first time that voluntary euthanasia has been allowed in Australia since the Northern Territory legalised it two decades ago, only for the Federal Parliament to quickly retract the law.

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Under the new rules, adults must meet 68 criteria to be able to request a lethal concoction of drugs from their doctor. They must be of sound mind, have less than a year to live (or under six months for those with neurodegenerative conditions) and their suffering must be deemed "intolerable."

The voluntary assisted dying laws also state that the patient - who has to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident - must have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months, must make three clear requests to die, and must be assessed by two experienced doctors, including at least one specialist.

The historic move may spark a domino effect, said state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, who claimed that other parts of the Commonwealth country would be looking to Victoria as an example.

"This is a historic change for Victoria and the entire country - we know other states will be looking to us and watching closely," Mikakos said. "We've made voluntary assisted dying legal because a person's quality of death is part of their quality of life."

Opioid pills and a syringe Credit: Pexels

So far, 89 doctors have completed the training and there is reportedly at least one public health service in each region with qualified staff who can do assessments.

To date, more than 2,200 people have attended health department information sessions about the new scheme, but formal applications will not be accepted by doctors until tomorrow.

Nonetheless, prominent euthanasia campaigner, Philip Nitschke, believes that the strict bureaucratic processes and eligibility requirements are so watertight that few people will be given the go-ahead to end their own lives. According to the Daily Mail, the government anticipates that between 100 and 150 people will access the laws per year.

However, former Australian Medical Association Victoria president, Stephen Parnis, has opposed the new law and is concerned there could be wrongful deaths.

Instead, Parnis favours palliative care options, stating: 'The fact that 60-plus so-called safeguards need to be applied, that means many opportunities for the system to fall down, for errors to take place."