TERMINALLY ill patients would be able to end their own lives, under controversial new laws introduced to the state parliament today by the NSW government.
Nationals MP Trevor Khan tabled the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to the state's upper house this morning, saying it would allow people to end their own lives, with a number of proposed safeguards in place.
Mr Khan said the proposed new laws would "provide an option for terminally ill patients whose deaths are imminent, the choice to end their severe pain, suffering or incapacity on their own terms.
"The bill fills a gap in the law of this state, where terminally ill patients do not currently have the ability to exercise such choice and sometimes die in unbelievable pain, suffering and stress."
Mr Khan said the legislation has been developed by a cross-party committee in a bid to "strip party politics" from the issue.
It would follow a model developed in the US state of Oregon, not "voluntary euthanasia" models available in some European countries.
"Under the Oregon framework only terminally ill patients with less than six months to live are able to request a medical practitioners' assistance for a substance for self-administration," Mr Khan said.
This would only be allowed after examination by two doctors and a further assessment that the decision has been made by the dying person voluntarily.
The Oregon laws have been in place since 1997 and "over the course 20 years their assisted dying scheme has accounted for less than one half of one per cent of deaths in that state", Mr Khan added.
"It has not been changed. It has not been amended, it has not led to unintended consequences or a slippery slope as those opposed to assisted dying would have you believe."
"It has not resulted in vulnerable people being coerced into accessing assisted dying.
"What has happened in Oregon is that terminally ill patients who are suffering immensely and whose deaths are imminent have either been able to self-administer a substance to end their suffering or obtain a prescription but die as a result of the terminal illness."
The NSW laws are expected to meet opposition from a number of upper house MPs, including Christian Democrat Fred Nile but the government is likely have the numbers to pass the legislation.
It remains unclear how soon the rules could be in use if the laws are passed.
Mr Khan said there would be protection for people who provide assistance to those who want to end their own lives plus safeguards to ensure the system is not abused or misused.
This would include the person who wants to die being at least 25 years-old, a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and ordinary resident in NSW.
The person must be suffering from a terminal illness - defined by an illness that will in reasonable medical judgment result in the person in the next 12 months.
The person must also be experiencing "severe pain, suffering or physical incapacity to an extent unacceptable to the person".
The practitioner overseeing the death must not be a close relative of the patient. And the patient can at any time rescind the request.
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