New Zealand has voted to legalize euthanasia in what campaigners call “a victory for compassion and kindness”.
Active euthanasia refers to the physician’s deliberate act, usually, the administration of lethal drugs, to end an incurably or terminally ill patient’s life to prevent suffering.
According to the international news agency, Preliminary referendum results showed 65.2% of voters supported the End of Life Choice Act 2019 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.
The End of Life Choice Act was passed by parliament in 2019 after years of parliamentary debate and a record number of public submissions.
However, there was a proviso that it would be put to a referendum only if more than 50% of voters will say ‘yes’.
According to the BBC, the person must meet the following criteria if he/she asks for assisted death:
- 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
According to BBC, The results announced on Friday do not include an estimated 480,000 special votes, including overseas ballots, so the outcome will not be confirmed until 6 November. But with such strong support, the decision is not expected to change.
The law is likely to come into effect in November 2021.
The ‘yes’ verdict had been anticipated as polls suggested strong support for the law. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and opposition leader Judith Collins supported the law.
Matt Vickers, who took on his late wife Lecretia Seales’ fight to legalize assisted dying, the result is “a victory for compassion and kindness”.
“I am grateful that terminally ill New Zealanders will have a say about the ends of their lives,” he told the BBC after the announcement.
However, there has also been vocal opposition to the law.
As MPs voted on the bill last year, protesters had carried placards stating “assist us to live not to die” and “euthanasia is not the solution” outside parliament.