Australian Parliament considers lifting euthanasia ban

Canberra, Australia (AP) – A new bill was introduced in the Australian Parliament on Monday, seeking to lift a 25-year ban on doctor-assisted suicide in two regions.

In 1995 the sparsely populated Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world to legalize voluntary euthanasia. But the landmark law was overturned by the Australian Parliament two years later, when four seriously ill people were helped to legally die, leaving the Northern Territory as one of the last parts of Australia where doctor-assisted suicide was banned. was banned.

Government MP Luke Gosling, representing the Northern Territory electorate, told parliament: “For a very long time Australians living in these areas have been treated as second-class citizens.”

He and fellow legislator Alicia Payne introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would allow the legislatures of the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory to legalize assisted dying.

The two territories do not have the same legal rights as the six states, which have each legislated euthanasia laws in recent years.

The Australian Parliament does not have the same constitutional power to overturn state laws as regional laws do. Both regions account for less than 1 million of Australia’s population of 26 million people.

Payne, who represents an electorate in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra and two villages, called her bill urgent. He called the mercy killing of terminally ill people an “incredibly important debate that we are not allowed to do because of where we live.”

Conservative government lawmaker Kevin Andrews introduced bills in 1997 that banned areas from making assisted suicide laws. A Conservative government was in power again in 2018 when a bill failed to end the ban. That bill fell short of two votes in the Senate. Previous attempts at the Senate in 2008 and 2010 also failed.

Since then, Victoria became the first state to legalize assisted suicide in June 2019 and New South Wales in May this year became the last state to pass its own euthanasia laws.

The federal government of the centre-left Labor Party, elected in May, has announced that it will allow its lawmakers to vote on the bill at their discretion, rather than adopt a party line.

The opposition conservative Liberal Party has also allowed a conscience over past euthanasia bills.

The Catholic Church is lobbying federal lawmakers to vote against the bill.

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