Australian state of Victoria legalizes assisted suicide and euthanasia

By Dave Andrusko

Doctor with needleAlthough the outcome was known in advance , it didn’t make Wednesday’s decision by the Australian state of Victoria to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia any the less bitter.

As Adam Baidawi, reporting for the New York Times, wrote, “After a two and a half years of debate and amendments, Victoria’s Lower House ratified the euthanasia bill, handing a victory to the state government of Premier Daniel Andrews, who had lobbied heavily for the law.”

Passage of the law became a fait accompli last week when following a marathon 28-hour debate, the bill was finally approved in the upper house of the Victorian Parliament.

“So, from June 19, 2019, just 18 months away, patients who have a life expectancy of less than six months, whose illness is incurable and causes intolerable suffering, are over 18 and live in Victoria will be able to request ‘voluntary assisted dying,’” as Michael Cook reported earlier this week. “Legalisation in Victoria has ominous implications for other Australian states and territories. Similar bills have failed only by the narrowest of margins in South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales. The “dying with dignity” lobby will be strengthened everywhere.”

Supporters went out of their way to repeat the usual mantras, including there will be no abuses. The line most touted is the claim asserted by Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula:

“We have ensured we have compassionate legislation while still giving Victorians the protections and safeguards they need – making this the most conservative and safest scheme in the world.”

As NRL News Today has reported, other states in Australia have debated “assisted dying,” mostly recently in New South Wales in September, but have always been defeated—in some cases by the slimmest of margins.

Right to Life of Australia President Margaret Tighe said in a statement that “the passage through the Legislative Council of the Andrews Government Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 has ushered in a tragic age for the state of Victoria”:

“The Andrews Government to its shame, has endorsed a regime which will allow doctors to kill sick patients. In other words an era of killing not caring.”

She said, “Given the steady and relentless increase in killable patients in those few places in the world where euthanasia is legal, talk of the famous 68 safeguards is laughable. We will be no better than those other places.”

Mrs. Tighe concluded, “The strongest condemnation for this tragic age rest with Premier Andrews and especially the health minister Jill Hennessy whose new name should be, in my opinion, the Minister for Death.”