New Zealand voted in favor to make euthanasia legal starting in 2021. According to reports from the BBC, preliminary results show 65.2 percent of people backed the controversial End of Life Choice Act, which was passed in 2019. It will allow assisted deaths for patients with terminal illnesses with six months or fewer to live, subject to doctor approval.
CNN reported that an estimated 2.4 million people took part in the poll on October 17. The full results will be published on November 6 as the outcome does not include 480,000 special or overseas votes.
Lawmakers initially voted 69-51 in favor of the euthanasia law, sending the issue to a national referendum following the decision.
The result will lead to euthanasia becoming legalized from November of next year. New Zealand will then join Canada, The Netherlands and Switzerland as one of few countries where the procedure is legal.
The referendum was held at the same time as the general election that led to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the Centre-Left party winning the election by a landslide.
Both Ardern and opposition leader Judith Collins backed the decision, and the outcome has been well-received by campaigners for euthanasia in the country.
Author Matt Vickers actively supported the legalization of euthanasia following the passing of his wife, Lecretia Seales. Per the BBC, Vickers referred to the outcome as “a victory for compassion and kindness.” He believes people should have the final say on ending their lives if they are terminally ill – an option his wife did not have.
“I am grateful that terminally ill New Zealanders will have a say about the ends of their lives. She didn’t want to die. No one does. That’s a popular misconception. The problem was the choice to live had been taken away. She wanted a choice on how death happens so if things got bad she could end the suffering at the time she wanted.” Vickers said.
Despite the majority result of the referendum, some citizens have continued to voice their opposition toward euthanasia.
After the result on October 30, Euthanasia-Free NZ — which campaigned against euthanasia in New Zealand and questioned its safety — reacted by saying they were “disappointed that the New Zealand public voted to pass a flawed euthanasia law” and felt parliament “could have made this law safer” by including further amendments.
The issue of euthanasia was previously covered by The Inquisitr after an acid attack victim chose to go through with the procedure but changed her mind after an intervention from Pope Francis.