Voluntary euthanasia Bill 2016

dying with dignity bill 2016

Dr Duncan McFetridge, Member for Morphett (Liberal Party)

Hon Steph Key, Member for Ashford (ALP)

There have been a total of 11 Bills introduced into the South Australian Parliament aimed at legalising assisted dying or voluntary euthanasia since 1995. (See timeline of Bills here)

The most recent was in 2016, when two different Bills were introduced.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 was introduced in the House of Assembly by Hon Steph Key MP, Labor Member for Ashford, on February 11. The Bill was seconded by Dr Duncan McFetridge, Liberal Member for Morphett.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 provided for people with unbearable and hopeless suffering with the right to medical assistance in dying, either through self administration or physician administration. The Bill provided for a person who determined that there suffering was no longer bearable to ask for assistance to die. Two doctors needed to confirm that there were no further treatments acceptable to the person which could make their suffering bearable; this meant that the person's condition would then be defined as “hopeless”. The request had to be witnessed by independent witnesses, a referral to a psychiatrist was required if either doctor suspected a person was not of sound mind, or was under any type of pressure to request assistance to die, and a delay of 48 hours was required after the request was finalised. (Key points of the VE Bill 2016)


The Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 was debated on four further occasions, with a total of 19 speakers, eleven speakers for the Bill and eight speakers against. Hansard for the five debates is provided here – February 11, March 10, April 14, June 9, October 20.


In the House of Assembly each speaker is allowed up to 10 minutes to speak, with debate on Private Members' Bills being allocated a total of one hour on the Thursday of each sitting week. 

After eight months of negotiations and circulation of multiple draft amendments, the decision was taken to adjourn debate on the VE Bill 2016 and introduce a new Bill incorporating the proposed amendments.

The Death with Dignity Bill 2016 was introduced on October 20 by Dr Duncan McFetridge MP, Liberal. It was further debated on November 15 and 16. (See Hansard here.) (Key points of the DWD Bill 2016)


At approximately 10pm on Thursday November 16, the House of Assembly voted 27 for to 19 against for the Bill to go into Committee Stage, where amendments could be considered. Following a marathon six hours in Committee Stage, at 4.12am on November 17, the Death with Dignity Bill 2016, as amended, was defeated on the casting vote of the Speaker, Hon Michael Atkinson, MP, a long term opponent of voluntary euthanasia.

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