On Saturday, New Zealanders will be asked to vote on whether people enduring “unbearable suffering that cannot be eased” should have a legal right to end their life.
This follows close behind a decision by the Dutch parliament to give the green light for euthanasia for the first time for terminally ill children aged from one to 12. The decision came after months of debate.
Down Under the End of Life Choice Act 2019 was proposed to allow those aged over 18 with a terminal illness to apply to terminate their life.
Although the act has passed through parliament it will only come into force if more than 50% of voters tick “yes” – at the same time as they’re voting on a new government and whether to legalise marijuana.
The act outlines who can apply to end their life: aged 18 or over, are New Zealand citizens, have a terminal illness that will kill them within six months, have a significant and ongoing decline in physical capability, or enduring unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and are in a position to make an informed decision.
Those suffering mental illness or decline would not be eligible, nor would those applying solely on the basis of “advanced age” or a disability.
Two doctors – one independent – would have to sign off on the decision, with a psychiatrist called in if either doctor has any doubts.
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