After a long debate in the upper house, NSW have become the last state in Australia to pass voluntary assisted dying legislation. Previously, euthanasia and physician assisted death carried heavy penalties under s19A of the Crimes Act 1900. A person who was found assisting in euthanasia could be convicted of murder and liable to life imprisonment under this statute.
As of 12:30pm on Thursday 19 May, within 18 months from this date, people with fatal diagnoses in NSW can access methods of voluntary assisted dying and those assisting will not face criminal charges.
The bill is limited to those who are facing terminal illness and are likely to die within a 6 month period, or within 12 months for an individual suffering from a neurodegenerative condition.
In order to proceed with the method, a person must be found to have the capacity to make such a decision and there must be no duress suspected.
The Northern Territory and ACT remain unable to propose laws surrounding voluntary assisted dying as a result of federal government laws that deny the territories this ability.
Penny Hackett, the Dying with Dignity NSW president, stated that “this bill will give an immense sense of hope and relief to many people with a terminal illness who simply want to take back some control at the end of their life.”
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