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Euthanasia laws pass key stage in SA

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016

Voluntary Euthanasia laws have passed a crucial vote in the South Australian parliament, progressing to the committee stage for the first time after the 15th attempt.

The death with dignity bill passed the second reading in the House of Assembly late on Wednesday, 27 votes to 19.

It's the first time such legislation has got this far with the vote also allowing for consideration of a string of amendments.

Speaker Michael Atkinson described the vote as "historic", coming more than 20 years after the first such laws came before the parliament.

The latest bill was introduced by Liberal MP Duncan McFedtridge last month and will ultimately be subject to a conscience vote by all MPs.

Dr McFedtridge said the person most likely to make use of the provisions would be about 70 years of age and suffering from cancer.

"There will be no further treatment and they will usually only have days or weeks to live," he told parliament.

"They will be losing dignity, they will be in pain, they will have had enough.

"We can be sure their situation is dire because any health professional will tell you, people will do anything to live."

One of the strongest opponents to the legislation, Labor backbencher Tom Kenyon said the concept of euthanasia was fundamentally flawed.

Mr Kenyon said he was also concerned about the potential breakdown of any safeguards put in place and urged MPs to vote against it.

The original bill requires someone to have a terminal illness and to be suffering unbearable pain that cannot be relieved through other measures before they can access assistance in ending their life.

They also will need to have their decision endorsed by at least two doctors.

Amendments proposed would include making a mental health assessment mandatory and would limit the provisions to people with less than 12 months to live.

If it passes a final vote in the assembly the bill will go before before the Legislative Council for final approval.

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