Australia

WA one step closer to voluntary euthanasia after bill clears lower house

People rally outside the WA parliament in support of proposed assisted dying laws Source: Go Gentle Australia (Facebook)

Western Australia's lower house has passed proposed assisted dying laws.

Western Australia has taken a step toward legalising voluntary euthanasia after the state parliament’s lower house easily passed proposed government laws on Tuesday night.

The lower house, which posted 44 votes in favour versus 12 against, was widely expected to pass the laws, but a vote later this month in the upper house is expected to be much closer.

If the upper house passes the proposed legislation it would see WA become the second state in the country to adopt assisted dying laws, after Victoria.

The proposed laws enable terminally ill adults in pain with less than six months to live - or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition – to take a drug to end their lives or ask a doctor to do it.

Ahead of the vote, Health Minister Roger Cook said the legislation was "cautious” and strikes the right balance.

"We're very confident about the provisions of the bill. It's a cautious bill, it provides protections for patients," he said.

Several MPs made emotional speeches during debate in the lower house, including Nationals Leader Mia Davies.

"If I was faced with a diagnosis of lung cancer tomorrow, I would want the option of voluntary assisted dying," she said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan (centre) and WA Health Minister Roger Cook (right) outside WA Parliament House
WA Premier Mark McGowan (centre) and WA Health Minister Roger Cook (right) outside WA Parliament House
AAP

The bill also has its critics, with many concerned it does not have enough safeguards in place.

"No one can tell me doctors don't make mistakes," Police Minister Michelle Roberts said during debate on Tuesday.

"There also exists the very real [opportunity] for abuse.”

Supporters of the bill held a rally outside state parliament on Tuesday evening.

Opponents are expected to hold a similar rally on Wednesday.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide can contact Lifeline 24 hours a day online and on 13 11 14. Other services include the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline (for people aged five to 25) on 1800 55 1800.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement can be contacted on 1800 642 066.

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