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COTA NT launches petition on voluntary assisted dying laws

COTA NT has launched a petition seeking to reverse a federal government law that prohibits the Territories from enacting voluntary assisted dying laws.

COTA NT launches assisted dying petition

CEO Sue Shearer said the petition seeks to repeal Section 50A of the Northern Territory (Self Government) Act 1978 so as to allow the NT Legislature to enact laws dealing with voluntary assisted dying.

The Northern Territory was the first jurisdiction in the world to pass an assisted dying law allowing a doctor to help end the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient’s request in 1995.

However, the the Rights of the Terminally Ill (ROTI) Act was effectively dismantled two years later by the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, a Commonwealth law which removed from the Territories the power to make such laws.

"This was, and still is, unfair and unreasonable,” Ms Shearer said. “It is increasingly untenable as states around the country are passing legislation in this area.

"Territory citizens are being denied their democratic rights and the choice for end of life decisions solely based on where they live.

"This situation should not be allowed to persist. This petition is about enabling Territorians to have dignity and choice in how their life ends."

Ms Shearer acknowledged that assisted dying was not a comfortable subject for a lot of people, "and can become very emotive”.

“But reluctance to talk about death and dying can prevent future planning of care and medical intervention, and a terminally-ill person from expressing their final wishes. We need those conversations.”

To support the petition, visit


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