A landmark assisted dying bill has passed through the lower house of Australia’s second-most populous state after a marathon all-night debate.
Lawmakers in Victoria discussed the voluntary euthanasia bill for 26 hours from Thursday morning until it was approved 47-37 in a vote on Friday.
It will only become law if it is supported in Victoria’s upper house.
Victoria will become Australia’s first state to legalise assisted dying if the next vote is successful.
The proposed law would allow terminally ill patients who are in severe pain to request lethal medication from doctors. They must be aged at least 18 and have less than 12 months to live.
“It has been a long time and we have brought a seriousness and respectfulness to the debate and now it is done,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, a supporter of assisted dying.
The bill was fiercely opposed by some members of Victoria’s Legislative Assembly who attempted to add hundreds of amendments during the protracted debate.
In a further sign of its divisiveness, Mr Andrews’s own deputy, James Merlino, spoke strongly against what he called a “deeply flawed” bill that was “a recipe for elder abuse”.
The proposal has 68 safeguards, including that patients must make three requests to specially trained doctors, and that coercion by others would be a crime.
The bill will now be debated in Victoria’s upper Legislative Council, most likely in two weeks.
Laws allowing terminally ill patients to legally end their lives with a doctor’s supervision have been passed in countries including Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.