SYDNEY - Victoria on Wednesday became the first Australian state to legalize voluntary euthanasia. Legislation was passed by the Victorian parliament after more than 100 hours were spent debating the bill.
Under the new laws, patients with a terminal illness will be able to request a lethal drug to end their lives beginning in mid-2019.
The law has been described as one of the most conservative among its kind in the world, with patients required to submit three requests in 10 days ratified by two doctors before they are granted access to the medication.
Premier Daniel Andrews, who came to support euthanasia following the death of his father last year, praised colleagues, particularly Health Minister Jill Hennessy, for their work on the bill.
"Victoria is the first state to pass voluntary assisted dying laws in Australia, giving Victorians with a terminal illness the compassion and dignity they deserve at the end of their lives," he told reporters in Melbourne.
"I"m proud today that we have put compassion right at the center of our parliamentary and our political process. That is politics at its best and it"s Victoria doing what it does best, leading our nation."
The bill first passed the lower house of parliament in October before moving to the upper house where changes were made before it was passed.
The lower house ratified those changes, most notably changing the time frame for eligible patients to access the scheme from 12 months to six months to live, on Wednesday.
Other safeguards in the bill include the requirement for a patient to have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months before accessing the medication and a requirement that anyone with a mental illness must be psychiatrically assessed before being allowed to end their life.
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