Victorian MPs to vote on assisted dying laws

VICTORIA could become the first Australian state to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill, after the Victorian Government accepted a cross-party committee's recommendation to legalise the practice.

The Victorian Government plans to introduce an assisted dying bill to the Parliament next year, with MPs granted a conscience vote.

This means there is no guarantee the bill will pass through the lower and upper houses of the Parliament

The bill has not yet been drafted, but early indications are that it would require two doctors to sign off on any request from a patient before it is carried out, possibly with a lethal tablet.

A ministerial advisory panel made up of clinical, legal, consumer, health administration and palliative care experts will be established to help draft a "safe and compassionate" legislative framework for assisted dying.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the legislation would reflect the recommendations of the cross-party parliamentary committee that delivered a report in June calling for doctor-assisted dying to be legalised with strong safeguards put in place.

Assisted dying is defined as when a competent adult patient administers himself or herself with a life-ending drug with the assistance of a medical practitioner.

It is different to euthanasia, which is defined as the act of intentionally, knowingly and directly causing the death of a patient, at the request of the patient, with the intention of relieving intractable suffering.

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