CANBERRA – The Australian state of Victoria approved on Wednesday the legalization of euthanasia, which makes it the first Australian jurisdiction to recognize the right of terminally ill patients to request assisted death.
The state legislature approved the bill after over 100 hours of debate along with the amendments that will allow terminal patients to ask for a drug to end their lives by June 2019.
The lower house, which had passed the bill last month, ratified the amendments approved by the upper house last week in a 22-18 vote, pending the consent of the governor of the state.
The changes include a reduction of the time (from 12 to 6 months) that eligible patients will have to access the program, and exemptions for patients with neuronal paralysis or multiple sclerosis with a life expectancy of 12 months.
According to the law, the patients will receive the drug – which they will be able to request after two independent medical assessments – within 10 days and will have to administer it themselves except in some special cases.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who became a euthanasia advocate after his father’s death last year, thanked the lawmakers for passing the bill.
“Victoria has made history. The model is safe. The purpose is clear. The time has come,” he tweeted.