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Assisted dying legalised in Western Australia

A second Australian state has legalised voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill adults living in pain after what the health minister described as a ‘significant moment’ for the typically conservative state.

The lower house in Western Australia yesterday approved the Labor Government’s Bill which will allow terminally ill Western Australians the right to end their suffering at a time of their choosing while ensuring that the necessary protections and approvals for these decisions are in place. The law only covers those with six months or fewer to live, or one year or less if they have a neurodegenerative condition. They will be able to take a drug to end their lives if two medical practitioners also approve.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for assisted dying for people who are terminally ill and also those who are incurably suffering, has welcomed the move. Humanists UK is supporting Paul Lamb in his bid to change the law on assisted dying in the UK.

WA is the second state in Australia to enact assisted dying laws after Victoria did the same in 2017.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said, ‘This is a remarkable moment for Western Australia and will go down in history as one of the biggest, most important and significant pieces of reform delivered.

‘We’ve never lost sight of who we’re doing this for. We owe it to those dying Western Australians suffering in pain who want a choice. We are now even closer to relieving intolerable suffering to those who would be eligible for voluntary assisted dying.’

The Western Australian health department said an 18-month implementation period will commence and the legislation will be reviewed two years from commencement.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:

‘We welcome this crucial development in Western Australia which allows terminally ill people the autonomy and choice to end their suffering in a humane and dignified way. While we believe the law should go even further by extending it to people who are incurably suffering, this is a very positive first step.

‘The progress internationally on assisted dying continues to gather momentum and shows that governments can change the law through a democractic process while at the same time implementing strong safeguards to ensure that the system is not misused in any way. We urge the UK Government to enact similar laws here to give people compassion, dignity, and the right to choose to end their suffering.’

NOTES:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Humanists UK believes that individuals who are of sound mind but who are terminally ill or incurably suffering should have a right to decide to end their life at a time and in a manner of their choosing. We recognise that any assisted dying law must contain stringent safeguards, but the international evidence from countries where assisted dying is legal shows that safeguards can be effective.

Read more about our work on assisted dying.

Read more about Paul Lamb’s legal case.

Find out where the major parties stand on assisted dying ahead of the election.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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