By VINNIE RODI

VICTORIA’S Parliamentarians have a tough decision on their hands, one that I simply don’t envy them having to make.

The decision of whether Victoria should legalise voluntary assisted dying has been hotly debated for several months now, with the Mildura Weekly featuring several letters from our readers expressing opinions both for and against the practice.

Religion, moral and ethical concerns, thoughts around emotion and compassion have all been played out in the media, with every debate or argument having merit.

It’s why an issue like this strikes a chord, and why our Members of Parliament (MPs) will spend the next few months seriously considering their personal views on the subject.

It’s an option that isn’t for everyone, nor is it one that a lot of people would consider were they to be diagnosed with an illness or disease that is ultimately going to take their life.

While some people are born with the will to survive no matter the odds, others are more inclined to accept their fate, with the option of when and how their life will end proving a better option.

And essentially, this is what this debate boils down to, providing a choice.

To put all my cards on the table, I am in favour of voluntary assisted dying, especially when it is reserved solely for those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and have been given mere months, or even weeks, to live.

I am also of the strong belief that it is only when there is no hope for recovery that such an option should be considered.

I also believe that it is an individual’s right, and no one else’s, to determine whether such an action should be taken.

The framework proposed by the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying achieves these goals, with the main aim to reduce one’s suffering.

We’re not talking about a framework that simply gives people the option between living and dying, we are talking about a process that allows those who are going to die the chance to choose when and how that happens.

The Panel is proposing that only those people who are suffering from a terminal illness, disease or condition should be considered.

It should also be noted that under the framework, it is the patient, and only the patient, who will legally be able to start the conversation about voluntary assisted dying.

Essentially this is a debate about choice. Should terminally ill individuals be given the right to choose when their life ends?

Personally, I believe they should have that right, as long as they are in the right frame of mind to make that decision, and have been given all the information required to reach a decision.

As I said at the start of this column, it’s a touchy subject, with debate sure to rage regardless of the decision our MPs reach later in the year.