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Voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria: what can we learn from the Netherlands experience?
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-14, 00:00 authored by Danuta MendelsonDanuta Mendelson
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 (Vic) (VAD Bill) was introduced into the Parliament of Victoria on 21 September 2017. The Bill is partly based on the Majority Report provided by the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Legislative Council following its Inquiry into End of Life Choices (June 2016). The Majority Report recommended introduction of euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation. The Bill is modelled on the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying Final Report, which drafted 66 recommendations on legalising administration and supply of substances for the purpose of causing the person’s death. The Victorian government accepted the 66 recommendations, which the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Panel, Professor Brian Owler, described as detailing “safe and compassionate framework for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria”. This analysis will focus on matters of major concern relating to the VAD Bill, namely criteria for accessing “voluntary assisted dying” and in particular, the age threshold and decision-making capacity. The proposed legislation resembles the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act of April 2002 (the Netherlands); consequently, the discussion will draw on the Dutch experience over the past 15 years.