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Friday, December 09, 2022

Australian Parliament considers lifting euthanasia ban

A new bill on euthanasia was introduced in the Australian Parliament on Monday (1/8). The bill aims to lift the 25-year ban on doctor-assisted suicide in two areas.

In 1995 the sparsely populated Northern Territory became the first place in the world to legalize voluntary euthanasia. But two years later the Australian Parliament overturned the landmark law. During those two years only four seriously ill people were helped to legally die.

The cancellation makes the Northern Territory one of only two regions in Australia where physician-assisted suicide is prohibited. The second is the Australian Capital Territory.

“For too long Australians living in the region have been treated as second-class citizens,” MP Luke Gosling, who represents the Northern Territory, told parliament.

He and fellow legislator Alicia Payne introduced bills in the House of Representatives that would allow legislatures in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to legalize physician-assisted death.

The two territories do not exercise the same legal rights as Australia’s six states, each of which has legalized euthanasia in recent years.

The Australian Parliament does not have the same constitutional power to overturn state laws as territory laws. Both regions have a total population of less than 1 million with a total of 26 million people.

For Example, A New Bill On Euthanasia Was Introduced In The Australian Parliament.  (Photo: Ap)

For example, a new bill on euthanasia was introduced in the Australian Parliament. (Photo: Associated Press)

Australia is made up of six states – New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania – and two interior regions – the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra.

Payne, who represents voters in the Australian Capital Territory, called the bill necessary. He described the merciful killing of seriously ill people as a very important consideration.

Victoria became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in June 2019 and New South Wales in May this year became the last state to pass its own euthanasia law.

The centre-left Labor federal government, elected in May, has announced that it will allow its lawmakers to vote on the bill at their discretion, rather than adopting party policies.

The Catholic Church lobbied federal lawmakers to vote against the bill. [ab/uh]

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