Australia’s only voluntary euthanasia laws came into force in the state of Victoria on Wednesday, with the government saying it had extensive safeguards to prevent the process being misused while giving people a choice over how they die.
Only residents over the age of 18 who are in intolerable pain with an incurable illness that will likely cause death within six months, or 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases, are eligible.
Cases are approved by doctors under strict guidelines. An assisted dying kit will be delivered to them in a locked box, and the patient must then mix the lethal drug and drink it themselves.
The drug is being kept confidential to avoid copycats, but has been likened to Pentobarbital, which is used in the US to execute criminals.
Medical experts say the patient would soon become unconscious, and die in about an hour.
Assisted dying | The facts
Officials say the legislation is conservative but compassionate, and has dozens of safeguards, including those to prevent terminally ill people being pressured into ending their lives.
Click Here: los jaguares argentina
“This is about giving to Victorians who have a terminal illness and are in the terminal phase of that illness, and have unbearable pain and suffering the dignified choice that should be theirs,” said Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.
The legislation is expected to become a blueprint for other Australian states if implemented successfully.
Euthanasia laws have recently been narrowly rejected by other Australian states but the Western Australian parliament is expected to consider an assisted dying bill in August, while authorities in Queensland are exploring similar options.
“I wish I could die, you know, have it over and done with. I am sick of my life,” said Ingrid Iflar, a lung cancer patient in New South Wales.
Critics say there is widespread opposition to euthanasia within Australia’s medical and religious communities.
The Australian Medical Association opposes physician-assisted suicide, insisting that better palliative care can address pain and distress.
In a letter, four senior Catholic bishops said they could not “co-operate with the facilitation of suicide, even when it seems motivated by empathy or kindness.”
They warned of a “new and deeply troubling chapter of health care”.
Australia’s Northern Territory was the first jurisdiction in the world to explicitly legalise euthanasia in 1996. It was overturned by the federal government the following year.
The legislation was in force for nine months, during which time four people died by medically assisted suicide.