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Last state to allow voluntary assisted dying

Asian woman lying sick in hospital.
From Tuesday, eligible patients in NSW suffering from a terminal condition will be able to use voluntary assisted dying to end their life. Picture: iStock

Eligible NSW patients suffering from terminal conditions will be able to use voluntary assisted dying (VAD) to end their life from 6am on Tuesday.

To qualify, patients must be diagnosed with an advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition that is expected to lead to death within six months, or 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases, and experiencing suffering that “can’t be relieved in a way that is acceptable to them”.

They must also be older than 18, not be under duress or pressure from another person, have decision-making capacity and show they have had an enduring request for voluntary assisted dying.

NSW PARLIAMENT
Eligible patients will be able to apply for voluntary assisted dying from 6am on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Christian Gilles

Bar special exemptions considered on a case-by-case basis, applicants must be a NSW resident for at least 12 months prior to applying for the procedure.

Once a patient decides to engage in VAD, they will make a first request with their doctor before undergoing an assessment and a consulting assessment with a second doctor. This is followed by a written declaration and a final request, which must be made at least six days after the first request and at least one day after the consulting assessment.

Pending a final review, a patient will then be able to choose whether they want to self-administer the medication that will end their life or have it administered by a nurse or practitioner.

From Tuesday, NSW will become the last state to allow VAD after similar legislation was first passed in 2017 in Victoria.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich was closely involved in campaigning for the laws, which were passed in May 2022.

The practice continues to be illegal in the Northern Territory and the ACT; however, health reform has been flagged for both jurisdictions.

Practitioners will also need to undergo specialist training in order to administer the life-ending drugs and be allowed to conduct the eligibility assessments.

Healthcare workers with a conscientious objection to VAD will be able to refuse from prescribing or administering the medication and can opt out from engaging in the assessment process.