Rachel Fieldhouse


Emotional scenes as NSW passes law on Voluntary Assisted Dying

Emotional scenes as NSW passes law on Voluntary Assisted Dying

The NSW parliament has legalised voluntary assisted dying (VAD), with Thursday's historic vote meaning terminally ill people can now choose the timing of their death.

NSW joins the rest of Australia’s states in making VAD legal with a final vote of 23 MPs in favour and 15 opposing.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who introduced the bill to parliament late last year, told members that the “entire diversity” of parliament were involved in passing the bill, with 28 co-sponsors from all parties - the highest number in Australian parliamentary history per The Sydney Mkorning Herald.

“For those wondering what happened with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill last night; the bill was debated till midnight and almost all amendments were dealt with,” Mr Greenwich explained on social media at 6am on Thursday morning.

“There is one more amendment this morning to vote on and then a final vote in both the Upper and Lower House.”

MPs debated nearly 100 amendments on Wednesday, with the sitting ending at midnight.

The majority of amendments, including the push to allow aged care and residential homes to block VAD from occurring in their facilities, were voted down during the debate according to the ABC.

At midday, it was announced that the bill had passed the upper house.

The lower house then approved the bill approximately an hour later.

Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, an opponent of the bill, told the upper house that it was a “dark day” for the state.

“It was a sad day because it was an opportunity for NSW to say ‘we can be better than this’,” Mr Tudehope said.

He added that it would be judged by history as a “dreadful mistake”.

However, advocate groups such as Go Gentle Australia and Dying with Dignity, as well as individual supporters of VAD, have welcomed the decision.

“VAD is now legal in NSW, the culmination of 50 years of advocacy. Congratulations to all involved,” Go Gentle Australia tweeted.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in this campaign!” Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi wrote.

“I was part of the Working Group on Assisted Dying in NSW Parliament, which introduced the first bill. I’m proud to have played a role so that people can die with dignity.”

“Genuinely stoked,” Scott Phillips, the director of City Recital Hall, said.

“I have no idea if my old man would have taken the option, in his final days as he battled cancer.

“But I am so pleased that the choice will be available to others in NSW as a result of this bill.”

According to 10 News First Sydney, the bill allows for people to choose to end their life if they have suffering that can’t be relieved and are likely to die of a disease within six months, or within a year in the case of neurodegenerative disease. 

The news comes just days after Sara Wright, a nurse who has long advocated for VAD to be legalised, spoke out about waiting for the decision to be made while being “virtually paralysed” as a result of motor neuron disease - estimating she has months left to live.

“I don’t think that I will live for more than another six to eight months, as my breathing capacity is reducing very fast and I do not wish to have a tracheostomy (an operation where a breathing hole is cut into the front of the neck and windpipe),” she told 7News.

“I know that all my family, my parents, my brothers, my ex-husband are all in support of voluntary assisted dying and helping me relieve my suffering.

“But none of us want to break the law or risk anyone being imprisoned if they helped me.”

Image: @DWDnsw (Twitter)

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