Assisted suicide – or voluntary euthanasia – has finally come into effect in Australia, marking a new stepping stone for terminally ill patients who decide to find alternative ways to depart from this world. AFP reports that the move, which applies from Wednesday June 19th, has been labelled a “bold change” in the country.
For long, euthanasia was considered illegal worldwide and was effectively banned in Australia until Victoria state legalized it back in 2017.
The Victoria premier, Daniel Andrews, who had previously supported the bill following the death of his father back in 2016, said laws would give patients a more “dignified option at the end of their life.”
"We've taken a compassionate approach to give to people that choice... that dignity for hopefully a good death which is a really important part of a good quality of life as well," Andrews told commercial broadcaster Channel Nine.
"This is bold change. No other state has done this... but we think this is the right step to take."
According to the law, euthanasia will only be used on terminally patients who have less than six months to live or in cases of sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.
The number of people expected to use the new euthanasia law in its first year is 12. Andrews says the number may jump to 150 per year after that, although strict conditions will be enforced regarding residency and medical approval.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne said in a statement that the law was a "new, and deeply troubling chapter of health care in Victoria.”