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Australia: euthanasia in Victoria state. Bishop Hart, “critical time in our history”. Increase funding for palliative care

It is a “critical time in the history” of the Australian state of Victoria, the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart said, following the passing of the bill enabling assisted dying. Victoria is the first Australian State to legislate in that direction. After a debate that lasted more than 100 hours across both houses of Parliament, the bill was passed yesterday. It will now be submitted to the Governor for ratification before entering into force in 2019. The Archbishop calls the newly passed legislation “regrettable and disappointing”. “Experience in other countries clearly demonstrates that Victoria is now at the beginning of a dangerous pathway where more and more people’s lives will be placed in jeopardy”, Mgr. Hart writes, pointing out that Catholic healthcare providers “will continue to accompany those who face death, always striving to provide the best care to them and their loved ones”, since “assisted suicide and euthanasia are not part of their practice” as Catholic hospitals and “are incompatible with the provision of quality palliative care”. The Archbishop will also put pressure on “the Victorian Government” to honour “its promise of increased palliative care, particularly in regional areas” and urges the Government to “substantially increase the funding for palliative care so that all Victorians” requiring this care have access to it. Finally, Mgr. Hart also reminds doctors and patients of their right to always act according to their conscience.

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