‘Monumental’: State’s historic euthanasia vote

After 16 failed attempts, this state is one step closer to legalising voluntary assisted dying after a bill was passed in the upper house.

After 17 attempts, euthanasia is one step closer to being legalised in South Australia after a bill passed the upper house overnight.

After six hours of deliberating, the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill was passed in the chamber at 11.30pm on Wednesday.

There have been 17 attempts in more than 25 years to pass a euthanasia bill. None of them made it past the Legislative Council until now, making it the first time in the state’s history that a law of its kind was passed in a chamber of parliament.

The votes for the bill massively outweighed those against, 14-7.

The proposed law will now be introduced in the lower house for another vote.

If passed, South Australia will be the fourth state to pass legislation to allow voluntary assisted dyingbehind Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Under the proposed bill, voluntary assisted dying can be accessed by people who are over the age of 18, have lived in SA for at least one year and have been diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition and are expected to die within weeks or months.

During Wednesday night’s discussion, the bill was also amended to ensure that doctors could not treat patients who were family members or benefit from the death.

Kyam Maher, who proposed the bill, said it was a “monumental day” for the “dying with dignity” bill to pass the upper house, and he looked forward to the further debate in the lower house.

“It was quite an emotional debate in the couple of weeks we have been considering this bill,” he said.

“Members of parliament are just like anyone else, we’re formed on our experiences, what we’ve seen and lived … the debate was very respectful and many members talked about their own personal experiences.

“Three-and-a-half years ago watching my mother suffer from the end stages of pancreatic cancer shifted me from merely being supportive to someone who made a commitment that I needed to do everything in my power to make this a reality.”

Mr Maher said the difference between the most recent bill and the past 16 was the state wouldn’t be the first to pass the legislation.

He said he expected the vote in the lower house to be close and was feeling nervous about the result.

“This is a conscious vote so every MP in the House of Assembly will decide how they vote based on their views and life experiences, so I think it will be close but I’m looking forward to this progressing.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close said South Australians expected the parliament to make a final decision as quickly as possible, which could be as soon as a few weeks.

“We don’t know how that vote will go, but we do know that over 80 per cent of people in SA are looking forward to this legislation passing,” she said.

“There is a high expectation that people have a right to control their final moments when they are in their darkest times and that parliamentarians don’t stand in their way.”

Premier Steven Marshall said he believed it was in the parliament’s interest to swiftly deal with the matter and was looking into how it could be advanced.

“I know the debate last night in the Legislative Council was respectful. I hope that is the exact same arrangement we have in the House of Assembly,” he said.

“It’s my intention to bring that legislation to the House of Assembly as quickly as we can.”

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