MELBOURNE — Terminally ill Australians can for the first time apply to end their own life, after new laws went into effect in the state of Victoria Wednesday.
The country’s second most populous region made voluntary euthanasia legal under closely specified circumstances, a first for the country.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews — who supported the bill after his father’s death from cancer in 2016 — said the laws were about giving patients a “dignified option at the end of their life”.
“We’ve taken a compassionate approach,” Andrews told commercial broadcaster Channel Nine, adding that he hoped it would bring people the dignity of a “good death.”
Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries and in Australia until Victoria state introduced laws to legalize the practice in 2017.
The scheme will be accessible only to terminally ill adult patients with fewer than six months to live — or one year left to live for sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.
Multiple restrictions will be put in place, including residency requirements and assessments from multiple doctors, meaning around 12 people are expected to use the law this year.