New South Wales is last Australian state to pass law allowing ‘voluntary assisted dying’

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) passed a law on November 28, 2023, allowing “voluntary assisted dying” (VAD) — the same law that introduced in May of 2022. This makes NSW the last state in Australia to legalize the practice, although the practice is still illegal in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory for now.

According to reports, anyone 18 years of age or older can opt for VAD, but must also qualify based on the following guidelines: be an Australian or NSW citizen or have lived in Australia or NSW for at least 3 years; have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months in cases of neurodegenerative disease; in serious illness related to life-threatening illness that causes physical, psychological, social, and emotional pain; have the ability to “make and communicate your own decisions throughout the process;” and must sincerely wish to proceed with VAD.

To apply for it, a patient can talk to their doctor and then be tested. After a few days, the patient will have another consultation with another doctor and should then pass on a written, formal request “which must be made at least six days after the initial request and at least one day after the consulting review.”

READ: The American Medical Association maintains opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia

The NSW health service stresses that it should be a “voluntary” decision made only by the patient involved, and not by their family members. No other person can initiate the VAD process for a patient. However, the health service encourages patients to discuss matters with their loved ones and warns that even if the family may not agree with the patient’s decision, they cannot stop the process against patient preference.

NSW has tried to put these “safeguards” in place surrounding “voluntary assisted dying,” but there are loopholes for coercion by patients and their loved ones. There is no mention of support services offered to potentially make life more comfortable for these “terminal” patients, and no mention of errors within terminal prognoses can be found within the NSW health service. The lack of proper resources and support for patients with disabilities or illnesses has reportedly led many to seek assisted suicide.

Studies have shown that assisted suicide may not be the “peaceful” death patients are promised. As Live Action News previously reported, “Researchers analyzing data from assisted suicide and euthanasia protocols in the Netherlands found that for a third of patients, death took up to 30 hours, and for four percent of patients, it lasted up to seven days die after being given drugs.”

According to Weekend Australian“Practitioners [of VAD] will also need to undergo specialist training to administer life-ending medicines and be allowed to carry out eligibility assessments. Health care workers with a bona fide objection to VAD may refuse to prescribe or administer the drug and may opt out of participating in the assessment process.”

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