6 May 2021
An end-of-life choice for terminally ill South Australians is one step closer to reality after a bill proposing to legalise voluntary assisted dying passed the State Upper House last night by 14 votes to seven.
After more than six hours of debate, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed shortly before midnight. It was the first time any euthanasia bill had passed a chamber of parliament in South Australia’s history, The Advertiser reports.
The Bill, introduced by Labor’s Kyam Maher and Susan Close, is the 17th attempt to legalise voluntary assisted dying in SA since 1995 and will now move for debate in the Lower House.
Mr Maher told InDaily last night’s vote was an important first step for the 85 per cent of South Australians who supported voluntary euthanasia.
“I look forward to debate in the House of Assembly in the next few weeks,” he said. “It’s time for voluntary assisted dying in SA.”
The legislation is based on similar laws now operating in Victoria and gives terminally ill people who have been given six months to live – and who are suffering with no prospect of relief - the right to die if approved by two separate doctors.
The ANMF (SA Branch) has publicly expressed its strong support for the Bill. We have been actively involved in the VAD debate, with the overwhelming support of the majority of our members, for more than five years.
However, we also acknowledge and respect that there are differing views in our profession. Our membership comes from diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, and our members hold a range of ethical views on the subject of voluntary assisted dying. Nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing have the right to hold their own opinion and for their opinion to be respected.
The ANMF’s position is that we support legislative reform so that competent adults who have an incurable physical illness that creates unbearable suffering shall have the right to choose to die at a time and in a manner acceptable to them and shall not be compelled to suffer beyond their wishes.
However, legislative reform must ensure that no individual, group or organisation shall be compelled against their will to either participate or be prohibited from participating in an authorised assisted or supported death.
In any jurisdiction where voluntary assisted dying is, or becomes legalised, nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing: a) have the right to conscientiously object on moral, ethical or religious grounds, to participation or involvement in assistance with dying; and b) must be legislatively protected from litigation where they are requested to assist with the process.
Please see the ANMF policy on voluntary assisted dying here.