Victoria Australia: 124 assisted deaths in the first year of its euthanasia law

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Victoria Australia Assisted Dying Review Board reported that in the first year of its euthanasia law there were 124 assisted deaths. Victoria passed its euthanasia law in November 2017 and instituted the law on June 2019.

Reporting for the Age, Melissa Cunningham wrote

Ten times more people than expected have chosen to end their lives under Victoria’s landmark voluntary assisted dying legislation in the first year.

State government-sanctioned lethal medication was used to end the lives of 124 terminally ill Victorians in the 12 months since the state’s landmark euthanasia laws came into effect in June last year, far surpassing initial estimates of just 12 people in the first year.

Since the assisted dying laws were introduced last year, 231 permits to die have been issued, the new Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board report, which examined the first year of the legislation, found.

Cunningham reported the following data:

Almost 350 terminally ill people were assessed for eligibility to end their own lives legally, while 272 eligible applicants applied for a permit, the report found.

There were 134 cases in which applications were withdrawn by a doctor or a person died before obtaining a permit. Applicants were aged from 32 to 100, with an average age of 71.

What reasons were offered for wanting assisted death? “Loss of autonomy was the most profound reason applicants gave for requesting assisted dying, the report found. Other reasons cited included loss of joy, losing control of body functions and loss of dignity.”

On an ominous note, Cunningham reported

The findings come as the independent Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board called for a Commonwealth law that requires face-to-face consultations for voluntary assisted dying to be abolished

At least for now, “Attorney-General Christian Porter said there were no plans to abolish the law and it remained the responsibility of the Victorian Government to ensure its laws comply with Commonwealth law,” Cunningham reported.

The Victoria government claims to have the most conservative euthanasia law in the world, and yet, in the first year there were 10 times the number of deaths than projected and there are calls to abolish the ban on “us[ing]  a phone or the internet to discuss euthanasia with terminally ill patients.”

Some consider this to be a success whereas I don’t ever consider killing people as a success. 

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.