Legal euthanasia less than a week away for Australian state

The Australian state of Victoria will soon allow for euthanasia, with a law legalising the procedure coming into effect on Wednesday next week.

Terminally ill Victorians who meet 68 criteria will be able to ask their doctor for a combination of drugs that will cause their death from June 19, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reports.

More than 2200 people have already attended information sessions about the scheme and 89 doctors have completed training on it.

There is now at least one public health service in each region of Victoria with qualified staff who can do assessments.

Doctors will be able to object to being involved in the process if they wish, but if patients seeking euthanasia cannot find a doctor health "navigators" will be available to help.

"If you're caring for a patient who expresses an interest in this as an option and who is at the end of their life and you'd like as a doctor to support them, then that may prompt you to take the training," former Victoria Health chair Professor John Catford told AAP.

"But at the end of the day we don't actually expect there will be huge demand for this option ... it's as much as a relief or a feeling that if things get too bad there are some other options available now."

Not everyone is happy with the change though, with some doctors opposing the law and championing palliative care options instead.

"The fact that 60-plus so-called safeguards need to be applied, that means many opportunities for the system to fall down, for errors to take place," Australian Medical Association Victoria president Stephen Parnis told AAP.

Victoria is the second Australian state to allow euthanasia, although it has not been legal in the country for more than 20 years.

The Northern Territory allowed euthanasia between 1996 and 1997. It became illegal again when a federal law overruled the Northern Territory's in 1997.


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