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Australia Legalises Euthanasia In Historic Vote

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Australia Legalises Euthanasia In Historic Vote

Euthanasia is now legal in every state of Australia after New South Wales became the last to approve a legislation on the matter.

The bill was passed by New South Wales' upper house today (19 May), following a long debate that resulted in 23 votes in favour and 15 against.

Members stayed until midnight on Wednesday to debate almost 100 late amendments related to the voluntary assisted dying law, picking up the debate again on Thursday morning before finally taking a vote.

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The result comes after Alex Greenwich, Independent MP for Sydney, brought the bill into the lower house last year. As well as receiving support from the upper house, a recent poll conducted by Go Gentle Australia and cited by 7News revealed three-quarters of the state's residents support those who are terminally ill having access to all legal medical treatment options within their own home.

Speaking to the lower house today, Greenwich commented: "I would like to thank the premier and leader of the opposition for allowing a free conscience vote on this. That has brought people together on both sides, to have a robust and difficult conversation."

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“Today, NSW passes a threshold of honesty and compassion," he continued. "Honesty that not all people die well, and compassion that people in NSW with an advanced terminal illness can have the same end-of-life choices as people in every other state.”

The bill has received some opposition, including from the premier, Dominic Perrottet, Labor leader Chris Minns, and Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope.

Tudehope said the bill 'betrayed' those suffering from a terminal illness, commenting: "Some will say this is a great moment for NSW. I will leave here today thinking this is a dark day for our state.”

However, Penny Hackett, president of Dying with Dignity NSW, described the law change as a 'moment for people in NSW'.

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The result means all states in Australia are now in agreement with legal voluntary assisted dying for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness; who are in the final stages of the illness and cannot alleviate suffering by palliative care.

In order to be eligible for assisted dying in Australia, the patient must be an Australian citizen over the age of 18 who is likely to die from a disease within six months, or a year if diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease or condition.

The person must be experiencing suffering that cannot be relieved, and be found to be able to make the decision for themselves without any pressure from another party. Eligibility must also be assessed by two medical practitioners.

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Now the bill has been passed by the upper house, it is set to come into effect within 18 months.

If you're experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They're open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you're not comfortable talking on the phone 

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Health, Australia, Politics, Life

Emily Brown
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