New Zealand Legalised Euthanasia for Terminally Ill Individuals

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It a new era in New Zealand as majority of the citizen triumph in their pursuit of long time agitation. The campaigner tagged the victory as “a victory for compassion and kindness”.

Based on the preliminary referendum results of the vote conducted in New Zealand, voters have been massively supportive of the End of Life Choice Act 2019 as 65.2% of them voted ‘yes.’

The new law will allow some groups toppled by terminally ill people, considered to have below six months to live, the chance to opt for euthanasia otherwise known as ‘mercy killing’ based on approval of two medical doctors.

For those against the law, it lacks adequate safeguards.

Although, the expected 480,000 special votes (inclusive of overseas ballots) has not been achieved by the law yet, as at Friday. Therefore, the final result is yet to be confirmed till 6th of November, 2020. But with such strong support, the decision is not expected to change.

The referendum is currently binding, so, the new law (End of Life Choice Act) is believed to come into effect latest in November 2021 after the confirmation.

The law will see New Zealand counted among a small group of nations, which includes both the Netherlands and Canada that allow euthanasia.

Notably, the referendum to accept euthanasia (assisted dying or mercy killing) was held side by side earlier this month (October, 2020) with the general election. It was, however, carried out in a separate non-binding referendum held at the same period. But, the New Zealanders narrowly did not accept a proposal to legalise recreational cannabis.

On the recreational cannabis, the preliminary results showed 53.1% rejection and 46.1% acceptance – although the result is likely to be subject to change after counting of the special votes.

The anticipation for the “yes” verdict on the euthanasia law has been speculated a long time ago after polls suggested strong public support for the law. In fact, both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the opposition leader, Judith Collins were found to have backed the law.

But it was the result of an emotional, desired, years-long campaign with a very strong view on both sides of the debate for its approval.

Criteria for the Euthanasia Law

The law makes provision for some criteria to be met by a person seeking for euthanasia (assisted dying). These include:

  • the terminal illness must have a minimum of six months lifespan
  • a decline in physical capability as defined in medical term must be seen
  • ability to make an informed personal decision about getting assisted dying

If the conditions are met, the legislation gives authorisation to a certified doctor or nurse to administer a lethal dose of medication or prescribe it to be taken under their thorough supervision.

Exception: advanced age, disability, or mental illness alone can be used to grant assisted dying for any individual.

The Countries In Caucus of Legalised Euthanasia

By voting “yes” for Euthanasia, the New Zealand is going to join a small group of countries and territories that have similar legislation.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while assisted suicide is also permitted in Switzerland.

More so, in United States of America, a number of states and the Australian state of Victoria have did the same in legalising assisted dying.


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Mohammed Abdulganiyu Haruna

He is a prolific writer and a BSc. and MSc. holder at the prestigious Universities, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria and University of Benin, Benin, Nigeria. He is also a freelance writer and a publisher of many articles and a book. He is a social worker by profession and a passionate and patriotic enthusiast. He has won many writing contests and given presentations on salient issues at different radio stations and news outlets. He has lectured at so many schools, recently, at University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. He is an accommodating and lovely person.

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