Finally, we’re a step closer to legalising euthanasia in Australia

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was on track to become the first politician to support giving terminally ill people the option

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was on track to become the first politician to support giving terminally ill people the option of choosing the timing and manner of their death when he tabled a report on the issue in parliament recently.

It’s hardly surprising for Andrews, who has been at the forefront of many progressive motions in Australia. He legalised same-sex adoption; set about decriminalising medicinal marijuana; and made abortion clinics safer for women just to name a few.

That a parliamentary committee has recommended reforms to give doctors the legal right to provide assistance to those terminally ill patients looking for an end to their life is a sign of just how progressive Andrews and his state are.

It has been 10 months of inquiry to get to this stage.

The report recommends the Victorian Government create a regulated, assisted dying regime for those patients who are suffering and who wish to end their lives. In short, it believes you should have the right to die with dignity.

Should this get the Government’s support it would require a change to the Crimes Act 1958.

Andrews says recent experiences have informed his thinking on the issue, though he has stopped short of openly supporting assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia.

“Personal views are informed by personal experiences and I know that for me and for my family, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about these issues,” Andrews told The Age.

The premier’s father passed away in April after a long battle with cancer.

His concern, naturally, is with ensuring there is appropriate balance.

While the report says “adults with decision-making capacity, suffering from a serious and incurable condition, who are at the end of life” should be provided with assistance to die in certain circumstances, how can you be sure a patient is not coerced into ‘requesting’ an assisted death? Will the availability of such an option see a sharp spike in the number of deaths, and not necessarily for those who are terminally ill?

In forming its recommendation the Legal and Social Issues Committee travelled to the Netherlands, Swtizerland, Oregon and Canada to discuss with experts the legal euthanasia regimes in those places.

More than 100 witnesses, including those who are dying, the families of those people, nurses, doctors, the police and members of the court, have spoken on the issue.

The momentum for change in Australia in relation to legal euthanasia has changed dramatically over the years. Recent polls suggest eight out of 10 Australians support a change that would allow for assisted dying.

The Victorian Government has six months to respond.

What is your opinion on this issue? Is it a discussion that needs to be held on a national platform?

  1. [email protected]  

    It is a first step and lets hope that the Andrews’ Govt, take further steps forward to legalize euthanasia. Daniel Andrews though, as you state, is not “the first politician to support giving terminally ill people the option”, as it was legal in the Northern Territory nearly 20 years ago. Australia was at the forefront of this issue, however, we are now lagging behind many other countries.

    It is a controversial issue for some and I understand that it is not the choice for everyone, but everyone should have the choice! It should be a person’s own decision, based on their own personal circumstances.

    I am a Catholic and believe in the sanctity of life, however, I don’t believe that the Church should enforce their views on everyone. People are all different, different backgrounds, different cultures, different experiences…and different opinions! Let people have the choice themselves.

    David J Scanlon, Senate Candidate for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.

  2. Barbara Chapman  

    If somebody wants assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia what is their problem that they have to ask someone else to do it for them. If they do not want to live why don’t they just kill themselves. I don’t understand why someone else has to be called on to kill them. It is still killing or murdering; legalized or not, doesn’t matter what name you give it.

    • Sometimes the means are not readily available or in fact people cannot always physically carry out the requirements due to incapacity. They still should have the right to die with dignity if that is their wish. Also the term ‘suicide’ is still not one that sits well with most people. I hope you will never need the assistance to end your life due to unbearable conditions.

    • What a little ray of sunshine you are Barbara. Your empathy and compassion knows no bounds. Your nearest and dearest must take great heart in knowing that should they ever be put in a situation whereby they are incapacitated and bedridden with a terminal ilness that will see them end their days or weeks or months or years in unmanageable and unbearable pain or stupified by high doses of drugs that dont kill the pain but just masks their reaction to it that you will be by their side every excruciating moment with a cheery “isnt this better than dying old chum” as you watch them waste away deadened inside praying for it to end. How noble they must think you to be comforting them with your undying and intractable ideals. Your a veritable saint Barbara. Dont let anyone confuse your charitable disposition with a myopic smugness borne of a base intellect.

  3. [email protected]  

    if you are in a situation where there is no hope as my father was with cancer and they prolonged his life by 2 months very sad by the way the hospital starf where fantastic

  4. watching my husband dying from cancer and in so much pain towards the end that the morfin could not dulme, .I would not wish it on any one . I know if I was at that stage I would not wish to be kept alive.

  5. Jean Kiem.  

    I’m wondering how come it was legal in N/Territory. That doesn’t make sense. If legal up there why not all over Aust. I do hope the law is changed and we have the option to die a dignified death. To be propped up in a nursing home and robbed of your dignity is beyond the pale. I know it’s a controversial issue and lots of ‘angles’ to consider.

    • It was legal in NT until the then federal government overturned the law. If it were made legal in Victoria people would go there in droves for the right.


    Now we need every Victorian to send a message to the Premier to please implement the committees recommendation.

    Not enough people do this but the ‘anties’ allways rush in and say ‘dont’.

    • Let’s hope there are no Federal Private Member’s bills introduced to veto this Marshal…

  7. I feel this is a personal choice. When people are dying of a terminal illness, they should be able to say “I have had enough”. They are the one in pain and they are the one who knows how much more they can or cannot tolerate. As far as people just dying because they do not wish to live any more – I am still out on that one.

  8. My mother is currently in a nursing home. She is 81 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Besides effecting all her muscles throughout her body, so she can hardly move, it has severely effected her throat which makes it difficult for her to talk, chew and swallow. Her cognitive mind however is fine. But, because she has difficulty swallowing, the nursing home refuses to feed her on the grounds of liability if she chokes. So she has to try and feed herself. But with hands that can no longer hold a utensil properly, she must often resort to using her hands. Unfortunately, I live in another state and cannot be there to help. So according to medical reports she is now suffering scurvy – she is slowly day by day starving to death. This woman is an accomplished pilot, photographer and teacher. If she could, she would choose a medically assisted death.

  9. Laurie  

    It was succinct, Ariel, saying what you wanted and needed to say and no more. It’s VERY sad and I feel for you and for her. This could one day be me, or any of us. Could you (or someone else) help her to write down her wishes for a medically assisted death, so that when/if the laws are passed, she will be ready? Is she able to drink juice through a straw? Every good wish to you both.

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