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Euthanasia bill passes another hurdle in Parliament

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Voluntary assisted dying legislation in South Australia has passed another legislative hurdle, with the Upper House last night waving the controversial bill through its second reading with a final vote set for May.

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The euthanasia legislation, sponsored by Labor MLC Kyam Maher and Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close, is modelled on a similar bill passed in Victoria in 2017.

It includes 68 safeguards and a provision that someone applying to end their life early due to terminal illness must have been a resident in SA for at least 12 months.

It is South Australia 17th attempt in 25 years to pass voluntary euthanasia laws.

Last night’s vote means the legislation will now go to the committee review stage before a final conscience vote is scheduled to take place in the Upper House on May 5.

In an emotional sitting of the Legislative Council, politicians from both sides of aisle expressed differing and deeply held personal views on the matter informed by previous life experiences.

Maher sought to ease concerns of those opposed to the legislation that the new laws could lead to coercion or misuse.

“Nothing in this bill will make anyone do anything,” Maher told the Upper House.

“It will not force any terminally ill patient to avail themselves to a scheme of assisted dying. It will not force any health practitioner to participate in a scheme if their conscience doesn’t allow them to.

“But making a decision against this bill certainly will actively stop people who wish to avail themselves to a voluntary assisted dying scheme in those last months of a terminal illness.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who has opposed euthanasia legislation since the 1980s, said his views were a minority in the Upper House.

“I know that in this particular chamber, whilst the view that I held years ago was the majority view in the chamber on euthanasia, it is very much a minority view at this particular time,” Lucas said.

“But I can not, will not, and don’t have to subscribe to the view that because of a poll says the majority people say I should vote a particular way that that’s the way that I should vote on that particular issue.”

Tasmania passed voluntary assisted dying laws through both houses of their state parliament last week, following Victoria and Western Australia as the third state to legalise euthanasia.

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