Australia’s Northern Territory has passed the world’s first law legalizing euthanasia.
The tiny tropical territory, with a population of only 180,000, recently passed a law which allows its terminally ill residents to ask doctors to end their lives.
The bill was actually passed last year but had to be sent back for rewording. Pro-life groups as well as the Australian Medical Association tried to lobby the government to repeal the legislation rather than vote on an Amendment bill, with the new wording. There has been talk that these groups will now form an alliance to challenge the amended legislation.
When the bill takes effect, it will allow the terminally ill to ask a qualified doctor to end their lives. These patients must be judged to be of sound mind. They must be diagnosed as having only one year to live and must also reside in the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory government becomes the first in the world to pass legislation allowing euthanasia. In the Netherlands, euthanasia is technically illegal, but measures have been put in place to protect doctors from prosecution. Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which was passed narrowly in a state-wide referendum, was struck down when a judge rules it violated the U.S. Constitution.