News State SA News Voluntary assisted dying to become law in South Australia as euthanasia bill passes Parliament
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Voluntary assisted dying to become law in South Australia as euthanasia bill passes Parliament

Advocates have repeatedly campaigned for the introduction of voluntary euthanasia laws. Photo: BC News/Matthew Smith
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After a three-decade long battle by voluntary euthanasia campaigners, South Australia has become the fourth state in the nation to pass legislation on voluntary assisted dying, after eleventh-hour amendments to the bill.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has just been passed by the South Australian Parliament, after securing the support of both the Upper and Lower houses.

It means patients in the state could access assisted dying as early as the end of next year.

The passing of the legislation represents a landmark in a lengthy campaign for assisted dying reform, and the bill was the 17th attempt in 26 years to legalise euthanasia in SA.

The bill will now go to the SA Governor for assent, before authorities start work to implement the scheme within 18 to 24 months.

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 conscientiously 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.

“These amendments are sensible and in fact consistent with the lengthy and very high-quality debate we had in this chamber a couple of weeks ago,” Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close said in Parliament.

“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.”

Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Vickie Chapman also supported that amendment.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman expressed final support for the motion before it passed. Photo: ABC News/Lincoln Rothall

“I rise to indicate my support [of] the motion,” she said.

“What this essentially does is ensure that when we look at aged care accommodation, that it is not just confined to Commonwealth residential aged care facilities but also state-based retirement villages.”

Eligible participants must be over 18, have lived in SA for at least a year and be deemed compliant by two doctors.

Their condition must be terminal, causes intolerable suffering and is expected to cause death within weeks or months.

Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have already made voluntary assisted dying legal, and Queensland plans to vote on the issue before its next state election.

-ABC