CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian state parliament’s marathon debate on allowing voluntary euthanasia abruptly ended on Friday unresolved after a lawmaker collapsed in his office.
Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, is in the final stage of a parliamentary debate that could legalize doctor-assisted suicide 20 years after the country repealed the world’s first mercy killing law.
Debate in the Victorian Legislative Council began Thursday morning and continued for more than 24 hours before an ambulance was called for government lawmaker Daniel Mulino.
Government lawmaker Jaclyn Symes later told the chamber that Mulino had sent a message that he was “all good.” The medical emergency was not explained.
Bu the sitting was adjourned until Tuesday and weary lawmakers were sent home.
The lawmakers had covered only eight of 141 clauses that will be debated before the parliament was adjourned. Half the 40 lawmakers in the upper chamber had indicated support for reform. Mulino is an opponent of euthanasia.
The bill was passed last month by the parliament’s lower chamber, the Legislative Assembly, 47 votes to 37.
The parliament of Australian’s most populous state, New South Wales, on Thursday rejected a doctor-assisted suicide bill by a single vote, 20 to 19.
Trevor Khan, the opposition lawmaker who introduced the bill to the New South Wales upper chamber, the Legislative Council, said he would “never give up the fight” to legalize mercy killings.
Australia’s sparsely populated Northern Territory in 1995 became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. But the Australian Parliament overturned that law in 1997 after four people had been helped to die.
The Australian Parliament does not have the same power to repeal the laws of states such as Victoria.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who became a euthanasia advocate after his father died of cancer last year, has described the draft state laws as the most conservative in the world.
Laws to legalize mercy killings have been narrowly rejected by three of Australia’s six states.
A euthanasia bill was defeated by a single vote in the South Australian House of Assembly a year ago and similar legislation was rejected by two votes in Tasmania’s House of Assembly in 2013.
Under the Victorian draft law passed by the lower chamber, only people registered on the electoral roll as living in that state would be eligible to access medical help to die. Candidates must be assessed by two doctors as having a terminal illness with less than a year to live and be in intolerable pain.
Government has agreed to amendments in the upper chamber that would require candidates to live in Victoria for at least a year before they were eligible and have only six months to live.
A doctor would be permitted to administer a lethal injection only in cases where patients were physically incapable of doing so themselves.