New Zealand will join a small number of countries that have legalized euthanasia after its citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of it in a referendum this month.
A second question on the ballot during the Oct. 17 general election — on legalizing recreational marijuana use — was set to fail, according to preliminary results released on Friday.
Proponents of the cannabis measure expressed frustration with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had declined to take a position on legalization before the election and revealed only on Friday that she had voted in support of it.
On euthanasia, though, her stance had been clear. Ms. Ardern, who retained the prime ministership with a landslide victory in the general election, had long expressed support for legalization, and the measure passed with 65 percent of the vote.
The ballot question had bipartisan backing, with her primary opponent in the election, Judith Collins of the center-right National Party, also expressing support. Parliament passed a bill legalizing euthanasia last year, though it needed to be ratified with at least 50 percent support in a referendum to come into effect.
Now, beginning on Nov. 6 of next year, doctors will be able to legally prescribe a lethal dose of medicine to patients suffering from terminal illnesses likely to end their life within six months.
To be eligible, patients must have a significant and ongoing decline in physical ability and experience “unbearable suffering that cannot be eased.” They must voluntarily request the procedure and show that they are able to make an informed decision. Two doctors will have to sign off on the decision.
“What a great day to be a Kiwi,” David Seymour, the
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