Euthanasia is about to become legal in the Australian state of Victoria for patients with terminal illnesses.
A year and a half after the controversial legislation was passed, Victoria will become the very first state in Australia to allow terminally ill residents to end their lives on their own terms.
From June 19 onwards, Victoria residents will be able to request access to a voluntary assisted dying scheme, a decision which has prompted strong opinions on both sides of the euthanasia debate.
A strict eligibility criteria will be implemented for patients applying to use the scheme, with the individual in question having to meet 68 criteria in total.
According to voluntary assisted dying legislation, applicant patients must be of sound mind. They must also be believed to have less than a year to a live, or less than six months for those with neurodegenerative conditions.
According to The West Australian,an anticipated 200 people are expected to use the scheme each year, although the number will initially be lower due to new legal and consent processes.
So far, 89 doctors have undertaken training in this area. There is at least one public health service in each region of Victoria which will provide qualified staff who can assess patients for this initiative.
More than 2,200 people have already attended health department information sessions regarding euthanasia. However, doctors won’t be accepting formal applications until June 19.
As reported by The West Australian, state health minister Jenny Mikakos has made the following statement:
This is a historic change for Victoria and the entire country – we know other states will be looking to us and watching closely,
We’ve made voluntary assisted dying legal because a person’s quality of death is part of their quality of life.
Victoria's #euthanasia legislation will come into effect as of next week – this makes #VIC the only state in #Australia where #assisteddying is legal. Victorian Health Minister #JennyMikakos has described the Bill as the safest and most conservative euthanasia laws in the world. pic.twitter.com/5VCgGlYz1i
— Fi Bendall (@FiBendall) June 16, 2019
Great to see Victoria leading with euthanasia laws. Everyone has the right to #diewithdignity.
— Anthony Hornby (@ahornby) June 16, 2019
It’s about time voluntary euthanasia was allowed, well done Victoria for giving this a chance
— Vann Demon (@vann_demon) June 16, 2019
Many people have taken to social media to praise the legislation, sparking discussions about the right for a terminally ill person to choose the manner in which they will die.
As reported by Daily Mail Australia, nurse Margaret Radmore is expected to become one of the first terminally ill patients to legally end her life.
Margaret, who has been told she has less than a year to live following a bowel cancer diagnosis, reportedly described the legislation as being a ‘huge relief’:
When this legislation was passed it was a huge relief to me,
I am perfectly comfortable with my fate and it is a very sad thing to be living through but the fact that I have control at the end is really important to me.
I might not even use the medication but just knowing it is there. I am really keen to start the process to have the kit because then I can just put it in the cupboard and just get on with living.
However, not all Australians view this to be a positive step forward. According to The Australian, four Catholic bishops in Victoria have signed a letter asserting their opposition to these euthanasia laws, describing legislation as ‘deeply troubling’.
Suffering from a terminal illness is one of the most daunting experiences human being will ever have to endure, and severely impacts upon their ability to imagine and plan for the future.
I personally believe terminally ill patients should be given as much choice as possible, and should be supported and respected whether or not they choose assisted dying.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.