The right to die: New South Wales could legalise euthanasia by the end of the year

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A bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying is just nine votes short of passing the lower house in NSW, but will face an onslaught of amendments.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean and former deputy premier John Barilaro are among 38 MPs who have backed the bill during the debate.

Twenty-six MPs have spoken against the proposed changes so far, with all members afforded a conscience vote.

When it returns for debate, the bill requires 47 ayes to clear the lower house.

The bill will likely go to a vote on Thursday, when attention will then turn to debating suggested amendments.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet opposes the bill which would allow patients with less than a year to live to end their lives

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet opposes the bill which would allow patients with less than a year to live to end their lives

More than 60 amendments have been tabled to the bill so far, and that number is growing, says the politician who’s spearheaded the bill, Sydney MP Alex Greenwich.

Some of the amendments are from supporters who wish to codify aspects of the bill and address concerns raised in debate, Mr Greenwich told AAP.

Others are from opponents trying to put in new barriers.

Nevertheless, Mr Greenwich is optimistic the lower house debate can be finalised before parliament retires for the year on Friday.

‘It’s clear that members are organised and ready for us to have the amendments debated this year,’ Mr Greenwich said.

‘There is sufficient time to be able to resolve it and I think it’s in the parliament’s best interest to see if we can resolve it this year.”

Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns will oppose the bill.

The Premier, who is a devout Catholic, said the debate is ‘very real and very personal’ for him because of his recent experience.

‘This time last week I was in the last place many of us would want to be. In a hospital, next to a bed, visiting a patient with a terminal illness. That patient is my grandmother,’ he began his speech on Friday morning.

‘She’s over 90 years old and now she’s dying from pancreatic cancer.

‘As I sat next to her, holding her hand, I could tell that she was in great pain and that she wanted it to be over.

‘I got a sense as much as anyone can of why those in such pain would want to end it quickly.

‘And I completely understand what motivates those who have to sit powerless and watch their loved ones suffer. In some ways that can be the most unbearable pain of all.

‘So this debate is not abstract for me. It is very real and very personal,’ he said.

But despite his grandmother’s experience, Mr Perrottet went on to explain why he opposes the bill which would allow patients with less than a year to live to end their lives.

He fears passing the law will would open the door for euthanasia on a wider scale.

‘This debate is fundamentally about how we treat that precious thing called human life,’ he said.

‘If we crossed this threshold, this parliament should be under no illusions as to what it would do.’

He cited countries including Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands where the rules have been relaxed, in some cases allowing euthanasia for people with psychiatric disorders, dementia sufferers, and newborns with a disability.

‘We cannot say that we in NSW were not warned. The same path is always followed. As history demonstrates none of those elements are set in stone.

‘If we pass this bill, the legacy of this parliament will be to open a door that no-one can close. That is not the future we should want for NSW,’ he said.

Instead of passing voluntary assisted dying laws, NSW should improve the quality of its palliative care, Mr Perrottet argued.

If the bill passes, it would make NSW the last state in Australia to permit voluntary assisted dying.

The proposed legislation restricts euthanasia to terminally ill people who would die in no more than 12 months.

Two doctors will have to assess applicants, and the bill makes a criminal offence of attempting to induce a person to apply for voluntary assisted dying.

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