Doctors risk life behind bars under under right-to-die laws

Victorian doctors who help their terminally ill patients to die could be jailed for life, under the state's proposed "assisted dying" legislation.

There will also be harsh penalties for friends or family members who help a sick person take their own life, under laws introduced to State Parliament on Wednesday.

The penalty provisions will also include up to five years jail for anyone found guilty of "improperly inducing" someone to end their lives.

As the Labor government officially launched its bill on Wednesday, Health Minister Jill Hennessy broke down on ABC radio while speaking about her mother's slow and excruciating death less than a month ago.

The minister said she was helping draft the legislation as she watched her mother, Joan Hennessy, slip away, with the dying woman urging her daughter: "Keep going, love, keep going."

"There are people with terminal illnesses that are taking their own lives in very violent ... circumstances now," Ms Hennessy said.

Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria's right-to-die regime would be strictly "self administered" with 68 "safeguards" built into the legislation and new criminal offences created in an effort to protect vulnerable people from abuse.

Medical assistance will only be allowed in cases where patients are too sick to administer the lethal drugs themselves.

But the vital question of which substances would be used under the new laws remains unresolved, with the government saying it will be worked out during the 18-month "implementation period".

Mr Pakula said a dying person would have to meet strict eligibility rules, including two independent medical assessments, before they could get a permit to give themselves a lethal dose of drugs.

"If there is a self-administration permit and a doctor or another person acts in contravention of those permits by, for example, applying this medication themselves, there are severe penalties, up to and including life imprisonment," Attorney-General Martin Pakula said.

"There are penalties for improperly inducing people to request voluntary assisted dying, of up to five years imprisonment and substantial fines."

MPs now get a three-week break before what is expected to be a lengthy and passionate debate in the October sitting sessions.

But the Premier was unable to say if a vote on the bill could definitely be held by the end of the year, with the vast majority of the Victoria's 127 members of parliament expected to want a say in the debate.

This story Doctors risk life behind bars under under right-to-die laws first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.