Wednesday November 13, 2019

Australia’s State of Victory, The First in the Country to Leagalize Euthanasia for the Terminally Ill

This is the most conservative model of its kind in the world, with 68 individual safeguards in place

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The VAD law, which was passed in November 2017, provides for each case to be individually reviewed by a commission that will determine whether or not to approve. Pixabay

 Australia’s state of Victoria on Wednesday became the first in the country to legalize euthanasia for the terminally ill as the law on voluntary assisted death (VAD) entered into force.

The VAD law, which was passed in November 2017, provides for each case to be individually reviewed by a commission that will determine whether or not to approve the euthanasia procedure, reports Efe news.

“This is the most conservative model of its kind in the world, with 68 individual safeguards in place,” Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said in a statement. “This is about giving people who are suffering intolerably from an incurable disease a voluntary, compassionate choice over the manner of their death.”

Applicants must be either decision-making adults who suffer from an incurable, progressive and advanced disease which could potentially cause their death within six months, or patients with a neuro-degenerative disease who have been given a life expectancy of 12 months or lower.

Australian State, Euthanasia, Terminally Ill
Australia’s state of Victoria on Wednesday became the first in the country to legalize euthanasia for the terminally ill. Pixabay

Patients should also be supported by doctors treating them and only a single pharmacy in Melbourne will provide the drugs needed for an assisted death.

According to the law, patients will receive the drugs within 10 days. They can request them only after passing two independent medical examinations and must administer them themselves, with the exception of some specifically-outlined special cases.

The law’s entry into force was preceded by a public letter issued this week by the four bishops of Victoria, who rejected the measure on moral grounds.

On the other hand, the decision was welcomed by potential applicants such as former nurse Nia Sims, who suffers from a rare autoimmune progressive disease called Scleroderma.

Also Read- Drug that Helps Regulate Bone Development to Boost Growth Rates of Children with Dwarfism on Global Trial

Euthanasia has been a subject of intense debate in Australia thanks to high-profile cases such as that of 104-year-old scientist David Goodall, who last year decided to undergo euthanasia in Switzerland despite not suffering from any terminal illness.

Over two decades ago, the Northern Territory’s parliament passed the 1995 Terminally Ill Act by a vote of 15 to 10. It entered into force on July 1, 1996, but it was nullified the following year when the federal parliament passed the Euthanasia Laws Act.

Nevertheless, four people died through assisted suicide before the law was repealed.

They were aided by Philip Nitschke, a doctor who runs the pro-euthanasia organization “Exit International” and who spearheaded the campaign that led to the passing of the law. (IANS)

Next Story

SC Allows ‘Living Will’ Of Terminally Ill Persons

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Supreme Court of India.
  • SC allows living will for the terminally ill patients
  • SC says the person has ‘right to die with dignity’
  • In a living will, a  person can choose not to prolong his or her life using artificial means

The Supreme Court on Friday said a person has the “right to die with dignity” and can make an advance “living will” authorising the withdrawal of life support system if in medical view he has reached an irreversible stage of terminal illness.

While allowing a person to make the advance directive or living will, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, attached strict conditions for executing the “will” made by a person in his normal state of health and mind.

Supreme court give terminally ill patients the 'living will''
Supreme court give terminally ill patients the ‘living will”

In the living will, a person can state in advance that his or her life should not be prolonged with a ventilator or artificial support system. The bench, also including judges A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board.

Recognising the “right to die with dignity”, the court permitted a person to draft in advance a living will in case she/he slips into an incurable condition. “To deprive an individual of dignity at the end of life is to deprive him of meaningful existence,” said Justice Chandrachud while allowing the living will for passive euthanasia.

Also Read: Ethical Dispute Erupts Over Euthanasia Rules

The court said the life support can be removed only after the statutory medical board declares the patient to be incurable. The bench said its guidelines and directives should remain in force till a legislation was brought to deal with the issue.

“Life and death are inseparable. Bodies involve continuous change but mind remains constant… Death represents culmination of life… Freedom, liberty are core of meaningful life,” Justice Chandrachud said. The court pronounced four separate but concurring judgements.

The person will have right to not prolong his or her by using artificial means. Wikimedia Commons
The person will have right to not prolong his or her by using artificial means. Wikimedia Commons

The court’s verdict came on a plea filed in 2005 by an NGO Common Cause seeking the right to make a living will authorising the withdrawal of life support system in the event of the will-makers reaching an irreversible vegetative state.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, had said that since a patient under coma cannot express his/her wish, law should allow him/her to put it down in writing in advance that he/she should not be tortured. In the absence of a law authorising doctors to do so, they keep incurable patients on life support, he said. IANS