Australian state reaches brink of legalising mercy killings

CANBERRA: An Australian state parliament is nearing passage of a voluntary euthanasia bill 20 years after the country repealed the world's first mercy-killing law for the terminally ill.

The Victorian Legislative Council on Wednesday passed the bill on doctor-assisted suicide 22 votes to 18 after hours of passionate debate.

The vote was the last significant hurdle to euthanasia becoming legal in Australia's second-most populous state from 2019.

The lower-chamber Legislative Assembly passed the bill last month and is likely to endorse the upper chamber's amendments next week.

Australia's 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.