Assisted suicide is coming closer in Australia, as one state parliament voted in favour of it last Friday.

After an all-night session in the legislative assembly of the state of Victoria, MPs voted 47-37 for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. It will now be passed to the legislative council (the upper house).

The bill would allow adults who are terminally ill and of sound mind to request a drug from their doctor that would end their lives.

In a fierce debate last week the Catholic former prime minister of Australia, Paul Keating, said that voluntary assisted dying would be “an unacceptable departure in our approach to human existence … and what it means to be human”.

At the end of July Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and other Catholics joined leaders from several Christian denominations to sign a letter protesting against the bill, saying that euthanasia and assisted suicide “represent the abandonment of those who are in greatest need of our care and support”.

In April, the local Catholic bishops said in a pastoral letter that the proposal was based on “misplaced compassion”.

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