Euthanasia legalized in New Zealand one year after majority vote

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Euthanasia has been legalized in New Zealand one year after 65 percent of voters supported the law, the Australian Associated Press reported.

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Two doctors must certify that the patient is well-informed about the procedure, and only people with terminal illnesses and less than six months to live will be eligible.

Two-thirds of New Zealanders voted in favor of the law in October 2020.

“From today we will have a kinder, more humane and compassionate society,” said Brooke van Velden, deputy leader of the ACT party that introduced the bill to parliament, said in a statement on Sunday.

“A society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Our country will now give those who face terrible suffering at the end of their life compassion and choice,” she added.

“It’s a good day to be a Kiwi.”

The country’s Ministry of Health estimates that up to 950 people could apply for assisted dying each year, with 350 people going ahead with the procedure.

New Zealand is the seventh country to legalize euthanasia, the others being Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain.

It is also legal in four of Australia’s eight states and territories.

What is ‘assisted dying’?

Assisted dying in New Zealand will involve several rigorous safeguards to ensure the person is making the choice for themselves, according to the country’s Ministry of Health website.

The process will be carried out by specially trained nurses or doctors who will administer a medicine to the patient which will end their life.

The patient can choose whether to administer the substance themselves, or have it administered by a professional via injection or orally.

Most assisted deaths will take place in the patient’s home, and the patient can choose who they wish to be present, including religious leaders.

Health professionals are not allowed to suggest assisted dying as an option to their patients. Anyone wishing to undergo the procedure must raise it with their doctor themselves.

Family members are also not allowed to request the procedure on behalf of someone else.

The procedure will be stopped at any time if it deemed that the patient is being pressured into it.

In some cases, a psychiatrist may evaluate the patient’s mental state before the procedure is carried out.

The patient can change their mind at any point.

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