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.
"We are celebrating this historic day"
"Compassion has won"
says Independent MP @AlexGreenwich, flanked by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill's co-sponsors and advocates.
— Sarah Navin (@SarahNavin) May 19, 2022
“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.
Proud to be sitting in the NSW parliament to watch the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill finally pass into law. This will make such a difference to the lives of so many, allowing people to choose to live the end of their lives as well as possible and to die with dignity. ✨❤️
— Abigail Boyd (@AbigailBoydMLC) May 19, 2022
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.
Voluntary assisted dying set to become law in NSW. Congratulations and thank you to all the advocates, especially those who fought for their right to die with dignity, and died waiting and the 28 MPs who co-signed the Bill, tabled by my MP, @AlexGreenwich #voluntaryassisteddying
— Kimberley Ramplin (@Kimbo_Ramplin) May 19, 2022
“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.”
At long last. Choice & dignity for terminally ill patients in NSW. Congrats to all who fought so courageously for this change. Now legalised in every State, the Federal Government need to stop blocking the NT & ACT from debating this reform. #ausvotes #auspol #nswpol #vad https://t.co/UAwfar1O4X
— JillHennessyMP (@JillHennessyMP) May 19, 2022
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)