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Euthanasia is legal in Victoria, Australia from today

From now on, those with a terminal illness will be able to ask doctors to end their life in Victoria State, Australia. It took a conscience vote and a marathon parliamentary debate lasting about 100 hours.. Assisted dying campaigners believe that the introduction of Victoria’s laws could pave the way for change in other states. 

Assisted dying campaigners believe that the introduction of Victoria’s laws could pave the way for change in other states. It took a conscience vote and a marathon parliamentary debate lasting about 100 hours. Now, a year and a half after Victoria passed historic legislation to allow for assisted dying, the laws will come into effect this week.

From Wednesday June 19, those suffering from a terminal illness can ask their doctor for lethal drugs that will allow them to end their own lives.

“This has been a long journey for many, many people who have advocated for more dignified, more compassionate choices at the end of a person’s life,” the premier, Daniel Andrews, said.

The scheme, which Andrews described as the most “conservative in the world”, has already received 100 inquiries.

“We anticipate in the first 12 months, based on overseas experience, around a dozen people that will access voluntary assisted dying, and we think that number will settle at around 100 to 150 per year in the years after,” Andrews said.

While as many as eight in 10 people, polls have long shown, support having that choice, some doctors and community members remain concerned terminally ill people might be influenced by avaricious, manipulative family members towards a decision to end their life, or be unable to give full and proper consent because of depression or other mental illness that often accompanies chronic suffering.

Roman Catholic bishops issued a “Pastoral Letter to the People, Clergy and Religious Catholic communities in Victoria Dioceses of Melbourne, Ballarat, Sale and Sandhurst”. In that, they warned the faithful that “on the morning of Wednesday 19 June 2019 we will wake to a new, and deeply troubling chapter of health care in Victoria. On that day the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Act (2017) comes into effect, creating the legal possibility for a person to end their own life or a doctor ending it on request in particular circumstances.

What is being referred to as ‘VAD’ is a combination of what in plain- speaking is more commonly known as physician assisted suicide and euthanasia”.

All of us who hold a principled opposition to euthanasia are now, in effect, conscientious objectors.

• We object to the unnecessary taking of a human life;
• we object to the diminishment of the love that can be given and received in the last days of our loved ones;
• we object to the lack of adequate funding for excellent palliative care;
• we object to state-sponsored practices that facilitate suicide;
• and most of all we object to the lazy idea that the best response our community can offer a person in acute suffering is to end their life.

 
The bishops of the affected dioceses also published an information sheet, drawing attention to “our need to pray, to be informed, and to act”. 
 

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