New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia...

Dhaka, Thursday   26 November 2020

New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia

 International Desk daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 04:26 PM, 30 October 2020  

New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia

New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia

New Zealand has voted to legalize euthanasia in what campaigners have called "a victory for compassion and kindness".

Preliminary results showed 65.2% of voters supported the End of Life Choice Act coming into force as a new law.

The law will allow terminally ill people with less than six months to live the opportunity to choose assisted dying if approved by two doctors.

Its opponents say the law lacks adequate safeguards.

The referendum results announced on Friday do not include an estimated 480,000 special votes, including overseas ballots, so the final outcome will not be confirmed until 6 November. But with such strong support, the decision is not expected to change.

The referendum is binding and the law is expected to come into effect in November 2021.

It will see New Zealand join a small group of countries, including the Netherlands and Canada, which allow euthanasia.

What is assisted suicide and euthanasia?

The referendum on assisted dying was held alongside the general election earlier this month. In a separate non-binding referendum held at the same time, New Zealanders narrowly rejected a proposal to legalise recreational cannabis.

The preliminary results on the cannabis vote was 53.1% no and 46.1% yes - though this result may be subject to change when the special votes are counted.

What is the new law?

The End of Life Choice Act was passed by parliament in 2019 after years of heated parliamentary debate and a record number of public submissions.

But there was a proviso that it would first be put to a referendum, only coming into force if more than 50% of voters ticked "yes".

There are a number of criteria a person must meet to ask for assisted dying. These include:

  • suffering from a terminal illness that's likely to end their life within six months
  • showing a significant decline in physical capability
  • being able to make an informed decision about assisted dying

The legislation authorizes a doctor or nurse to administer or prescribe a lethal dose of medication to be taken under their supervision if all the conditions are met.

The law also says a person cannot be eligible for assisted dying on the basis of advanced age, mental illness, or disability alone.

DailyBangladesh/SA