Voluntary Euthanasia is now legal in the state of Victoria, becoming the first Australian state to do so. Premier Daniel Andrews who voted in favour of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 has said it is strictest euthanasia law anywhere in the world with strong safeguards against abuse.
The legislation passed both houses of the Victorian Parliament after a conscience vote in November 2017 with an 18 month period to prepare its implementation.
The conditions which must be met for a person to receive euthanasia in Victoria are:
- they must be suffering from an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition, and experiencing intolerable suffering.
- The condition must be assessed by two medical practitioners to be expected to cause death within six months (an exception exists for a person suffering from a neurodegenerative condition, where instead the condition must be expected to cause death within 12 months).
- A person must be over the age of 18 and have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months and have decision-making capacity.
- Though mental illness or disability are not grounds for access, people who meet all other criteria and who have a disability or mental illness will not be denied access to assisted dying.
Despite these promised safeguards pro-life and Christian groups remain opposed to the legislation arguing it is a slippery slope to introduce state sanctioned killing and can still lead to people who may recover from their illnesses seeking euthanasia. A large portion of the medical fraternity is also against euthanasia believing it to be a violation of their Hippocratic oath.
On the eve of the enactment of the euthanasia legislation a candlelight vigil was held on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament by those opposed to euthanasia. Speakers included former MLC Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins who voted against the legislation, Liberal MLC Bernie Finn who voted against the legalization and Dan Flynn the Victorian Director of the Australian Christian Lobby.
Although polls have consistently shown that the Australian public are supportive of euthanasia politicians have been reluctant to legalize due to the possibilities of abuse and how to safely implement it.
With Victoria now breaking ground as the first state to legalise the practice pro-euthanasia campaigners have been embedded to lobby in other states for euthanasia to be introduced. The terroritores are prevented by federal legislation enacted in 1996 from legalizing euthanasia following the Northern Territory legalizing it.
The Victorian implementation will be watched closely to see how often it is used, it is estimated that 150 people will end their lives via euthanasia per year, and if they slippery slope that we have seen with euthanasia in European nations does eventuate