Each state and territory has its own legislation. Both active voluntary euthanasia and medically assisted suicide are illegal in all areas of Australia.
The Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995, which legalised medically assisted dying, was passed in the NT parliament on 25 May 1996 and came into force on 1 July 1996. But on 9 September 1996, Liberal MP Kevin Andrews introduced into the federal parliament the Euthanasia Laws Bill to overturn the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act and this anti-euthanasia Bill was passed in the Senate on 25 March 1997, having been passed in the House of Representatives on 9 December 1996.
In Victoria, under the Crimes Act, those who practise active voluntary euthanasia can be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter and those who assist a person to suicide face a prison sentence of up to 14 years. In other states and territories there are similar penalties.
It is now widely recognised that patients have the right to refuse medical treatment, therefore passive voluntary euthanasia is rarely illegal. In Victoria, a person's legal right to refuse medical treatment is clarified in the Victorian Medical Treatment Act 1988. This Act was amended in 1990 and 1992 to allow a person to appoint an agent to act on his or her behalf if, and only if, he or she should become incompetent. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria provides its members with detailed information about this Act and the Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) form
required to appoint an agent.
On 4 November 1997, the State of Oregon, USA, passed a law to allow medically assisted suicide for the terminally ill. On this date, the people of Oregon voted 60% to 40% to retain the "Death with Dignity" law which had first been passed in November 1994, but had been delayed because of legal opposition.
Swiss law does not prohibit hastening the death of another, unless the act is done for "selfish" reasons. more...
Belgian law enabling voluntary euthanasia came into force on 23rd September 2002 and is summarised here.
In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize physician assisted dying and voluntary euthanasia. The law formalized practices used in Dutch hospitals and homes for decades, turning guidelines adopted by Parliament in 1993 into legally binding requirements. more...
In 2005 the Israel parliament approved passive euthanasia law to prevent the life of a terminally ill person who does not wish to continue living, being extended artificially.
The House of Lords has before it (October 2005) a bill for doctors to be allowed to help terminally-ill people to take their own life.
The Canadian Parliament is scheduled to debate 'Dying with Dignity' in 2006.
The Law is an Ass?
There is no doubt that Australian doctors regularly break the law with regard to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
No doctor has ever been charged in Victoria with murder/manslaughter over an action that might be considered voluntary euthanasia, nor has any doctor in Victoria ever been charged with assisting suicide. (The practical meaning of assisting the suicide by medical means, of a rational, hopelessly ill person who has unrelievable suffering, is uncertain.)
In 2001, a West Australian surgeon was charged with murder and assisted suicide - the jury took less than 10 minutes to find him not guilty,
Over the last twelve years, a number of 'mercy killings' and attempted 'mercy killings' and 'suicide pacts' by lay persons (close relatives) have resulted in a series of suspended or non-custodial sentences by judges - a serious 'crime' without any penalty.