The lower house of parliament in Victoria has just passed a bill which could legalise euthanasia.
Allowing terminally ill people the right to end their lives has long been a contentious issue so this parliamentary debate was unsurprisingly long. MPs debated the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill for a whopping 26 hours(!) before it was passed 47 votes to 37, after a conscience vote.
The bill now needs to get through the Upper House and will be up for debate in two weeks.
If it passes, terminally ill people over 18 who are in severe pain and only have a year to live will be given the right to access lethal drugs.
Premier Daniel Andrews applauded Health Minister Jill Hennessy for making it happen. Premier Andrews, who lost his father to cancer earlier this year, stated that an announcement made today on assisted dying will provide “a way forward”.
He previously voted against the bill, then changed his mind, stating: “I will be voting for this bill.”
Some palliative care doctors are against this bill, arguing that there is not evidence to say that euthanasia would be any more beneficial for a terminally ill patient than palliative care.
"We're talking about potentially a major shift in a major new public health intervention," Professor Peter Hudson from St Vincent's Health says, as reported by the ABC.
"There needs to be a suitable evidence base behind it, all the side effects of the proposed intervention need to be assessed, and there needs to be a review of this over time in terms of the resources required to implement it.
"And we don't believe that the proposed model has been through that level of scrutiny."
However the bill has been dubbed the most "conservative" in the world by euthanasia advocate Andrew Denton.
He was among members of the public in Parliament to watch the vote.
If this bill passes, it'll make Australian history, particularly after South Australia voted down allowing similar legislation for the 15th time last year.
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