Andrew Denton was among the many supporters in August 2019 when Belinda Teh spoke outside WA Parliament. The 27-year-old Perth woman embarked on a 4,500km journey from Melbourne to Perth after watching her mother die from breast cancer in 2016. Picture: Richard Wainwright / AAPSource:AAP
A terminally ill person has become the first to make use of Western Australia’s voluntary assisted dying laws, ending their life privately.
Premier Mark McGowan made the announcement on social media on Thursday morning, describing it as an “historic moment” for the state.
“We passed these laws so terminally ill Western Australians, who are suffering, could have the compassionate choice to end their lives with dignity,” he said.
“Understandably, this person and their family have chosen to do this privately.
“We must all respect that choice, just as we respect the individual’s choice to use these laws to end their suffering.
“I can only imagine what an emotional time it must have been for the person involved and their loved ones.”
The controversial legislation was passed in parliament in December 2019 after more than 180 hours of debate and amendments, making WA only the second state after Victoria to legalise voluntary assisted dying in certain circumstances.
There was then an 18-month implementation period, including the training of medical staff and establishing administrative processes.
Under the WA model, terminally ill adults who are in pain and likely to have less than six months to live – or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition – can take a drug to end their life if approved by two medical practitioners.
There were many rallies held in the lead-up to the legislation passing parliament. Picture: Richard Wainwright / AAPSource:AAP
“Death is a difficult issue, and we don’t like thinking about what the end of our lives may look like,” Mr McGowan said.
“I am sure many will find comfort in the fact these laws mean neither they nor their loved ones will be forced to suffer needlessly at the end of their lives.
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“That is why so many Western Australians fought so hard for so long to bring about these laws, and why the WA community supported them so emphatically.”
Mr McGowan previously said about 60 people were expected to be approved to end their lives in the first year of the scheme.
Voluntary assisted dying has also recently been legalised in South Australia and Tasmania.