New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia for terminally-ill patients

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

New Delhi (NVI): New Zealanders have voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia for people with a terminal illness — clearing the way for the controversial proposition to become law in 2021.

More than 65 per cent of voters backed the proposed law, according to preliminary results of a referendum announced by the country’s electoral commission today.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the new law will allow terminally ill people the opportunity to receive assisted dying upon two doctors’ approval.

The results of the euthanasia referendum are binding and the Act will come into effect 12 months from the final results – on November 6, 2021.

More than 2.4 million people took part in the poll, which was conducted alongside New Zealand’s general election on October 17. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won the election by a landslide, securing a second term and an unprecedented majority for her center-left Labour Party.

In addition to this, New Zealanders were also asked to vote on whether cannabis should be legalized — 53.1 per cent said no.

The law contains several stipulations for those eligible to receive “assisted dying.”

To get access to euthanasia, terminal patients with six or fewer months to live will have to be at least 18 years old and be a permanent New Zealand resident or citizen.

Notably, euthanasia is legal in five other countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada and Colombia. Physician-assisted suicide, in which doctors give patients the means to kill themselves, is legal in Switzerland.