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Australian Euthanasia Law Takes Effect

Sun., June 30, 1996

The world’s first voluntary euthanasia law takes effect Monday in Australia’s Northern Territory, but it appears to be short-lived, doomed by legal appeals and opposition at the national level.

“I don’t believe we’ll see one-way jumbo charter flights from San Francisco to Darwin in respect of euthanasia,” federal Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer said.

The leaders of Australia’s three major political parties have all declared their opposition to the the law passed in 1995 law.

The law requires that a terminally ill patient seeking to die be evaluated by two doctors, including a psychiatrist, to make sure the person is not suffering from depression.

Patients must wait for a nine-day “cooling off” period before they may end their lives with a lethal dose of drugs administered by a doctor.

Australia’s immigration laws bar terminally ill foreigners from coming in to end their lives, but residents of other Australian states would be free to go to the Northern Territory.

However, a bill in federal Parliament that would strip the territory of its power to allow the termination of life is expected to pass handily with support from the government and the opposition.

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