New Zealand euthanasia bill set to get nod after referendum

Voters in New Zealand are expected to have voted “yes” in a referendum to legalise euthanasia when preliminary results are announced on Friday, underlining the measure’s consistent support among the public and the backing of newly returned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Polling has put support for the legislation, one of two referendums put to voters during the general election earlier this month, at above 60 percent. A “yes” vote will mean New Zealand joins a small group of nations and territories including the Netherlands and Canada that have legalised assisted dying.

The road to the End of Life Choice Bill, which took place at the same time as the election, began five years ago with lawyer Lecretia Seales.

After being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour Seales wanted very much to remain alive, but her husband Matt Vickers says she was frustrated by the lack of personal autonomy for those facing terminal illnesses and the lack of political will to address the issue.

Seales brought a case before the courts arguing that euthanasia should not be interpreted as suicide under the Crimes Act because it was not a question of life or death, but whether a person was suffering on the way to an inevitable death.

She also argued it was her right not to be subject to cruel or degrading treatment under the Bill of Rights Act.


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