ZB

Victoria's euthanasia law comes into effect

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jun 2019, 9:23am
Justine Martin says Victoria's law could be copied in New Zealand. (Photo / Getty)

Victoria's euthanasia law comes into effect

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jun 2019, 9:23am

A Melbourne mother of two with terminal illness has won the battle for her right to die, and hopes New Zealanders will get the same rights too.

Justine Martin has Multiple Sclerosis and three types of cancer, and has had three major heart surgeries in the last five years.

She has been campaigning for the right to assisted dying for a decade, and told Newstalk ZB she's been waiting years to get to this point.

"Hopefully it stays as law, and gives us Victorians the right, and hopefully the rest of Australia and New Zealand follow suit."

"[Under the law] you have to be of sound mind, you can't be coerced by anyone else, and it has been 100% your own decision."

The law won't give Victorians as much access to euthanasia as many advocate had been hoping for.

Melbourne bio-ethicist Courtney Hempton says lawmakers have opted to take a cautious approach, with terminally ill patients having to meet 68 criteria before being eligible.

"They'll be certainly members of the community who want to access to voluntary assisted dying, but won't be able to given some of the safeguards.

"The person must be able to understand information about voluntary assisted dying, retain and weigh that information, and then communicate their decisions."

A long-time opponent of assisted dying said the law is extremely flawed and New Zealand would be wrong to follow suit.

Former Vice President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Stephen Parnis says the people most at risk are the most vulnerable in society.

"Most of [the people eligible for assisted dying] are not able to advocate on their own behalf and need special protection, which this law endangers.

"All the people of New Zealand should look at the detail and not just take the words of those who want this."

The architect of New Zealand's assisted dying bill is closely watching the roll-out of Australia's law.

Act leader David Seymour said New Zealand's bill will end up very similar, but limited assisted dying to those with less than six months to live.

"In Victoria, you have have an assisted death if you have a 12 month prognosis or less and a neuro-degenerative condition, as opposed to other terminal conditions.

"[In both laws] two doctors must certify that you are a mentally competent illness and wishes to end your life your way."

Seymour's bill is due to have a second reading in the coming weeks.