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Statement from End-of-Life Choice Society

Western Australia’s move to legalise voluntary assisted dying continues a worldwide trend supported by a clear majority of New Zealanders, the End-of-Life Choice Society’s President, Dr Mary Panko, said on Wednesday.

The Western Australian parliament voted Tuesday to join the state of Victoria in allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live who are suffering unbearable pain to get medical assistance to end their misery. The law will come into effect after an 18-month implementation period.

It means nearly nine million Australians will join more than 200 million people in Europe and the Americans with enlightened legislation allowing the ultimate human right of the 21st century – the right to die with dignity.

New Zealanders will vote at a referendum next year on whether to approve the End of Life Choice Act passed by 69 to 51 votes in Parliament on November 13. Scientific opinion polls have consistently shown about two-thirds of New Zealand voters are in favour, Dr Panko said.

She said the Western Australian law was similar to that proposed in New Zealand whereby a doctor can prescribe and administer the lethal medication if the patient wishes. In Victoria, patients must take the dose themselves, but Dr Panko said that in all cases, the key word was “voluntary”, only people who were certified to be actually dying would qualify and there were strict safeguards to protect the vulnerable and participating medical staff.


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