In the early hours of Thursday 10 June, South Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed in the Lower House 33 votes to 11. This means that South Australia is on the verge of becoming the fourth Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
The Bill modelled on the Victorian VAD law will give terminally ill South Australians who meet the eligibility criteria the right to request lethal medication to end their lives when their suffering becomes intolerable. Several amendments were made to the VAD Bill during the Lower House debate so the Bill needs to return to the Upper House for the final vote. This is expected to take place on Wednesday 23 June.
It took MPs six hours to carefully debate the 117 clauses of the Bill and consider amendments. One of the amendments passed will allow private, most likely faith-based, hospitals to exercise an institutional conscientious objection however those hospitals will be required to refer patients seeking the procedure to other institutions.
This was an historic moment because it was the 17th attempt in 26 years to legalise voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.
Labor MP Susan Close took carriage of the Bill in the Lower House and was delighted with the final vote.
“It will be, in my view, the right thing, but importantly in the view of countless South Australians, something that they will be grateful we took on, we did seriously, and I hope turned into law,” she said.
If the VAD Bill passes in the Upper House on 23 June, the law is expected to come into effect within 18 to 24 months.