Voluntary assisted dying is set to be legalised in South Australia after the Lower House unanimously voted in support of the state’s latest euthanasia Bill early this morning.
After several hours of debate, MPs voted 33 to 11 in favour of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020, which will give terminally ill patients the right to end their own lives.
The milestone moment was the 17th attempt in 26 years to legalise voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.
Modelled on Victoria’s historic voluntary assisted dying laws, the Bill contains 70 safeguards, including people requesting access to VAD needing approval by two independent doctors.
To be eligible to access voluntary assisted dying, people must be aged 18 years or over, have lived in South Australia for at least 12 months at the time of making a first request, and be diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that is incurable and expected to cause death within six months.
Several amendments were added to the Bill at last night’s final reading, including allowing private hospitals to conscientiously object to VAD and refer patients requesting access to the procedure elsewhere.
It will now return to the Upper House for a final vote of approval before voluntary assisted dying can be legalised. The Upper House voted 14 to seven in favour of the proposed legislation in early May and the Bill is almost certain to become law.
If approved, South Australia will become the fourth Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
Labor MP Kyam Maher, an advocate for voluntary assisted dying, first introduced the Bill to the Upper House.
“I have imagined this moment so many times over the last few months. So bloody pleased and proud and just a little emotional,” he tweeted in the early hours of this morning.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) has actively supported the Bill, including hosting a Candles for Compassion vigil on the steps of Parliament House on 26 May and publishing an open letter last November calling on state politicians to pass the Bill once it was introduced into Parliament.
“As nurses and carers who have experienced first-hand the plight and the cries of the terminally ill and their loves ones, we ask that our politicians, the very people elected to reflect the will of the people, honour the wishes of the overwhelming majority – and, most importantly, those who continue to languish in agony and despair, deprived of their right to die with dignity,” the open letter read.