Assisted suicide will become legal for terminal patients in Australian state

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Terminally ill people  with six months or less to live can apply for euthanasia when a new law comes into force in nine days.

The Australian state of Victoria passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act in 2017, and the changes will start on June 19.

Doctors have been trained over the last 18 months and just three pharmacists will be given powers to mix and administer the drugs.

There are strict rules around the new law, which was modelled on the recommendations of an expert panel and then debated in the Victoria’s lower house for three days.

At the time former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating spoke out against the bill saying: “The passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill through the Victorian lower house is truly a sad moment for the whole country.”

Patients have to be terminally ill

 

Candidates for assisted dying must have a terminal diagnosis likely to cause their death in the next six months – or 12 months for a neuro-degenerative disease like motor neurone disease.

It also must be the person’s own, fully-informed decision.

They also need to be at least 18 years old, an Australian citizen or permanent resident and have lived in the state of Victoria for a minimum of 12 months.

They will need to be given just six months to live

 

People cannot make the request on behalf of a loved one, and it cannot be requested as part of an advanced care directive.

Patients with dementia are unlikely to qualify as they need to be fully involved in the decision making process.

Doctors can opt out and do not have to participate in assisting their patients to die.

They also need to live in Victoria, Australia

 

The process will be overseen by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, which will review every case and suggest improvements or changes to the law.

Australia’s Northern Territory passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1995 and three people were given assistance to die. But the law was later voided.

Western Australia is due to introduce a bill to parliament later this year.

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