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One South Australian euthanised every 7 days under new regime

Now SA Attorney-General Kyam Maher addressing a May 2021 rally in support of the laws

Six weeks after new laws made it possible, health authorities say six people have used South Australia's new assisted dying laws to end their lives.

The new laws came into operation six weeks ago after 17 attempts over more than 25 years to get legislation through state parliament.

SA Health reported on Tuesday that 32 people had since made an initial request as part of the process.

Among those, 11 permits had been issued allowing people to access the necessary medication.

SA Health said at least six people had died after being administered or self-administering the medication.

Health Minister Chris Picton said the new laws had provided "death with dignity" to those people.

"This process is working and people are being supported through this process," he said.

The minister said it was also expected that some people who went through the steps to obtain a permit for the drugs might not ever use them.

"But it gives them the peace of mind to know that it's available when they need it," he said.

SA's assisted dying system includes a provision that people wishing to die must be a South Australian resident for at least 12 months.

A terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease, must be confirmed for a patient to access the procedure. 

The laws also require patients to show they have decision-making capacity and are capable of informed consent, and to undergo an assessment by two independent medical practitioners.

They must have their request verified by independent witnesses and be experiencing intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved.

A patient will be required to make three separate requests, including one in writing.

SA Health also confirmed that 44 doctors had so far completed the mandatory voluntary assisted dying training, while a further 54 had registered to do so.


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