Voluntary euthanasia legalized in Australian state of Victoria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-19 11:54:38|Editor: Li Xia
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SYDNEY, June 19 (Xinhua) -- New laws that make it legal for patients with a terminal illness to access voluntary assisted dying, will come into effect on Wednesday in the Australian state of Victoria.

As the first place Down Under (Australia and New Zealand) to legalize euthanasia, Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said, "this is about giving people who are suffering intolerably from an incurable disease a voluntary, compassionate choice over the manner of their death."

"My thoughts today are with those who have campaigned for this for many years. Your bravery will change lives," she added.

Passed through the state parliament at the end of 2017, the new legislation is the world's most stringent when it comes to eligibility and medical supervision.

"This is the most conservative model of its kind in the world, with 68 individual safeguards in place," Mikakos said.

According to the Victorian government, the main safeguards include that "only adults with decision-making capacity, who are suffering and have an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition that is likely to cause death within six months can access the scheme."

It is also requires that a patient "make three clear requests and have two independent medical assessments that determine they are eligible."

As well as this, a patient's request "must always be initiated by the person themselves, with health practitioners who are treating the person and raise the issue subject to unprofessional conduct investigations," the Victorian government said in a statement.

With each individual case to be overseen by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, more than 120 doctors, cancer specialists and palliative care clinicians across Victoria, will now undergo mandatory, specialist training to make sure they are equipped to deal with any voluntary assisted dying requests from patients.

An unnamed "Melbourne-based pharmacy service" has been chosen as the sole operator in charge of dispensing the life-ending medication.

The Victorian state government estimates that 12 people will seek access to voluntary-assisted dying services this year.