Victoria issues first assisted suicide permit

Melbourne / Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

The Australian state of Victoria has issued its first "voluntary assisted dying" permit under its 2017 euthanasia legislation, according to The Age.

The permit has not been used, but it will allow an unidentified terminally ill person to obtain a lethal medication to end his or her life when desired.

The state government has refused to confirm or deny the approval, saying that the privacy of the patients and their families needs to be respected. It expects that only about a dozen Victorian will end their lives in the first year, but that the figure would rise to about 150 each year.

The government said it was determined to respect the privacy of patients accessing voluntary assisted dying and their loved ones.

Rodney Syme, of Dying with Dignity, has complained that the process for securing an approval is taking too long. "Despite the fact there was 18 months for the implementation of this legislation and the government worked hard to set it up, I believe it is still the case that community are poorly informed," he said.

"There are a whole heap of barriers at the moment," he told The Age. "I just think the government needs to maintain the communication process and ramp it up. Once people find the doctors, they've still got to go through the process of getting the permit which can theoretically take nine days. These are people who are suffering greatly and they can't afford any delays."

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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