After a three-decade long battle, South Australia has joined Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia in approving a voluntary assisted dying scheme, after securing the support of both the Upper and Lower houses.
This was the 17th attempt in 26 years in SA and the passing of the legislation means patients in the state could access a voluntary euthanasia scheme as early as the end of next year.
The state’s legislation is modelled on Victoria’s existing laws, which include more than 70 safeguards.
Additional amendments voted in on Wednesday will allow private hospitals as well as individual medical practitioners to object if they refer patients to a place where they can access the scheme.
Other amendments made sure that residents in aged care and retirement villages could access the scheme in their own homes or units.
Greek Australian SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros and SA Labor MLC Irene Pnevmatikos stood in support of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill.
“The legislation gives people the choice to use voluntary Assisted Dying as dignifying and safe choice at the end of life and does not replace the important role of palliative care available to all. I am proud to stand in support,” Ms Pnevmatikos told Neos Kosmos.
SA Best MLC Ms Connie Bonaros said she approached the euthanasia issue the same way she approaches all conscience votes.
“Overwhelmingly, about 83 per cent of South Australians support voluntary euthanasia. This by far the most conservative model in the world, with the most protective safeguards of anywhere in the world,” Ms Bonaros told Neos Kosmos.
Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close said in Parliament that the amendments were sensible and consistent with the lengthy and very high-quality debate that took place in the chamber a couple of weeks ago.
“They reflect the intention, I think, of people in acknowledging that when someone is living in their own home, be that run by an organisation such as an aged care facility, and in this amendment’s case a retirement village, that that person has the right to have access to lawfully-available interventions and medical advice,” she added.
Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Vickie Chapman also supported that amendment.
Premier Steven Marshall also voted in favour of the Bill, which will now go to the SA Governor for assent before authorities start work to implement the scheme within 18 to 24 months.
Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, who voted in favour of the Bill, said “this is a version of voluntary assisted dying that is worthy of support” and reflecting on his time as Health Minister, he said he witnessed “first-hand the truly extraordinary effort that was going in to keeping people alive.”