Australian woman the 1st to die under state's assisted suicide law

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A 61-year-old Australian woman who fought metastatic breast cancer for 10 years has become the first person to die under Victoria state's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act.

Her family said Monday Kerry Robertson died July 15 after planning for her death. Family members described it as "perfect."


"We were beside her, David Bowie playing in the background, surrounded by love, with final words spoken, simple and dignified," daughter Nicole Robertson said. "She left this world with courage and grace, knowing how much she is loved. Mum was really lucky because she was able to plan that day."

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos called the first use of the law, which passed in June, a "historic moment."

Robertson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, which later spread to her bones, lungs and brain. She stopped treatment in March because the side effects were no longer manageable. Her family said she could no longer feed herself or have joy in her life. The drugs used for the assisted suicide were delivered by a pharmacist.

"I think mum really wanted to be able to have an assisted death, but was not sure whether or not she would make it in time, or the legislation would make it in time," her daughter said. "We were fully supportive of mum's decision, knowing the cancer was so aggressive and that potentially the way her life would end would be very full of pain."


The assisted death process took 26 days, Robertson's family said.

The Victorian law is considered one of the most conservative assisted suicide laws in the world, and requires certain criteria. An illness must be terminal and the patient must not be expected to live more than six months, or 12 months in cases of a degenerative neurological illness.

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