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EIGHT out of 10 Australians believe the terminally ill should have a right to choose a medically assisted death, according to a new poll out today. The Newspoll research, conducted in February, found 80 per cent of adults surveyed supported the terminally ill’s right to voluntary euthanasia.

Just 14 per cent were opposed and 6 per cent were undecided. The results have renewed calls for further debate.

“I would call on the Victorian Government to permit passage of a private member’s Bill for voluntary euthanasia through Parliament,” Dying With Dignity Victoria incoming president Neil Francis said.

He said the level of public support was an increase on a 2002 Morgan poll, which put support levels at 73 per cent.

Mr Francis said the proposed legislation for Victoria had strong safeguards that mirror those already in place in the US state of Oregon.

“The choice to die is the sole, documented, persistent and tested decision of the sufferer, not anyone else. Detailed annual reviews of the Oregon law, in practice over eight years, have clearly demonstrated no abuse of the process,” he said.

Mr Francis said that without the option of medically assisted euthanasia, many terminally ill people were forced to take their lives in an undignified or violent way, often leaving relatives and emergency workers traumatised.

He said medical professionals currently faced a potential 14-year jail term for assisting with the requested suicide of a sufferer of a terminal disease.

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