SA tries again for assisted dying laws

South Australia’s 17th attempt in 25 years to introduce voluntary euthanasia laws has come up for debate in state parliament.

Labor Upper House MP Kyam Maher has introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, which is modelled on similar legislation passed in Victoria.

Mr Maher told parliament it was not a matter of whether assisted dying would be approved in SA but when, and in what form.

“It’s time to change this law. It’s time to let terminally ill South Australians safely and legally choose how to end their life,” he said.

“People deserve to die with the same dignity that they lived their life.”

The new bill includes 68 safeguards as well as a provision that people must be resident in SA for at least 12 months.

People wishing to end their lives must show they have the decision-making capacity and are capable of informed consent, as evidenced by an assessment from two independent medical practitioners.

They must have their request verified by two independent witnesses and must be experiencing intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved.

A terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease, must also be confirmed.

Support group Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia urged MPs to take “community sentiment to heart” with the majority of people in favour of assisted dying laws.

“We believe this bill strikes the right balance between safeguarding the community and offering choice and compassion for those with an incurable illness,” spokeswoman Lainie Anderson said.

Advocate Angie Miller said it was heartbreaking that South Australians were unable to access an assisted death while other states were moving towards choice and compassion.

As well as Victoria, Western Australia recently passed similar laws that will come into force later this year, while legislation has also passed both houses in the Tasmanian parliament.

The SA bill will be subject to a conscience vote by all MPs.

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