Lawmakers voted 69-51 to approve the End of Life Choice Act 2019 last year before sending the issue to a referendum.
More than 2.4 million people took part in the poll, which took place in parallel with New Zealand’s general election on 17 October. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won the election by a landslide, securing a second term and an unprecedented majority for his center-left Labor Party.
New Zealanders were also asked to vote on whether cannabis should be legalized – 53.1% said no.
The law contains several provisions for those eligible for “assisted dying”.
The person must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18 with a terminal illness “which may end the person’s life within 6 months”; is in an “advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capacity”; and experiences “unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a way the person deems tolerable.”
They should be evaluated by several medical professionals, including one from a government-appointed doctor.
Doctors and nurses are not allowed to start the conversation about assisted dying, and medical professionals are not obligated to help people who wish to die in the event of conscientious objection.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are only legal in a handful of countries and jurisdictions around the world, including Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada.