Terminally ill people in NSW will have access to euthnasisa in a landmark decision handed down by state parliament yesterday.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 passed the NSW upper house on Thursday, receiving 23 votes in favour and 15 against.
This followed an arduous 12-hour debate between state members, including a clash over a proposed ban to block access in faith-based aged care homes.
Regional health minister Bronnie Taylor, who opposed the amendment, said the bill sufficiently covered the rights of aged care providers.
"People in aged care, in any form of residential care and in hospitals, must retain the right to make choices about their life and their options," Taylor said.
"Why would we support a law aimed at substituting their decisions over their life with those of distanced boards and directors?"
The amendment, one of 33 drafted by Labor MP Greg Donnelley, was defeated.
People who wish to voluntarily end their lives must be over the age of 18 and an Australian citizen.
They also must be likely to die from a terminal illness within six months, or one year if they have a neurodegenerative disease.
Eligibility must be confirmed by two independent doctors, and patients must have the capacity to make the decision and not be under duress.
NSW is the last Australian state to legalise euthanasia, with Victoria being the first to pass a law in 2019.
Following the announcement, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Union said nurses and midwives across the state “had long supported” the law.
“We commend the NSW politicians who listened, and who have shown care and compassion on this important issue,” said NSWNMA president Brett Holmes.
“As clinical health professionals, our members support and respect patients with an incurable illness having the ability to request and consent to access voluntary assisted dying.”
The bill, which will not come into effect until the end of 2023, has drawn staunch opposition from religious aged care providers.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, HammondCare, Anglicare and Catholic Health Australia said the bill “forces [..] facilities to allow doctors into their premises to prescribe and even administer restricted drugs with the intention of causing death.
“The bill has the veneer of protecting aged care staff but in fact does the opposite as it forces them to choose between abandoning residents [..] or violating their conscience by being involved in assisting their death,” they wrote.
The same day NSW passed the legislation, (now former) prime minister Scott Morrison said a re-elected Coalition would not overturn a 1997 law that bans the ACT and NT from legalising euthanasia.
Labor has pledged a parliamentary debate and conscience vote on a bill.Do you have an idea for a story?
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