Jun 19, 2019: Victoria becomes first Australian state to allow euthanasia
AUSTRALIA - Terminally-ill Victorians will be able to end their own lives legally, making Victoria the first state in Australia to legalize assisted suicide. Western Australia and Northern Territory are among the states debating euthanasia.
Victoria’s legislature passed the law in Nov 2017, but mandated an 18-month wait implementation period. Substantial amendments had been agreed to overcome opposition, including lowering the proposed life-expectancy threshold from 12 months to six and committing more money to palliative care.
Australia’s sparsely populated Northern Territory in 1995 became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. But the Australian Parliament overturned that law in 1997 after four people had been helped to die. Britain’s Independent points out that parliament does not have power to overturn the law in several other states.
The push to allow medically-assisted death on a wider scale in the country faces high-profile objections among the medical community and fears that the program’s safeguards do not go far enough to protect the vulnerable.
The parliament of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, rejected a doctor-assisted suicide bill in Nov 2017 by a single vote. A euthanasia bill also was defeated by a single vote in the South Australian House of Assembly a year earlier, and similar legislation was rejected by two votes in Tasmania’s House of Assembly in 2013.