A total of 52 people in the Australian state of Victoria ended their lives by doctor-assisted suicide in the first six months since the state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying law went into effect. 

Between June 19 and December 31 of 2019, 136 Victorians started the process to obtain lethal medication to end their lives; 81 were issued a permit to end their lives with the help of a doctor. The numbers exceed the official projections, which predicted only a few dozen people would apply to end their lives.

According to a report from the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, published on Wednesday, Feb. 19, all of these suicides were committed in accordance with Victorian law. 

In Victoria, the second-most populated state in the country, only adult Australian citizens or permanent residents with an “advanced disease that is expected to cause death within six months,” or within a year for neurodegenerative diseases are eligable for doctor-assissted suicide. Patients must also have the capacity to make and express the decision to end their lives, and have lived in the state of Victoria for at least 12 months.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 came into effect on June 19, 2019. Victoria was the first Australian state to legalize any form of physician-assisted suicide. The Western Australian parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 on December 10, and it is expected to go into effect sometime in 2021. 

“The law has many safeguards to make sure that it is the person’s own decision and that no one is under any pressure to request voluntary assisted dying,” says the health.vic website’s section on assisted death. 

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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