New Zealand euthanasia bill set to get nod after referendum

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Voters in New Zealand are expected to have voted “yes” in a referendum to legalise euthanasia when preliminary results are announced on Friday, underlining the measure’s consistent support among the public and the backing of newly returned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Polling has put support for the legislation, one of two referendums put to voters during the general election earlier this month, at above 60 percent.

 A “yes” vote will mean New Zealand joins a small group of nations and territories including the Netherlands and Canada that have legalised assisted dying.

The legislation, which automatically becomes law if the referendum is passed, authorises a doctor to administer or prescribe a lethal dose of medication to competent adults suffering unbearably from a terminal illness that would probably end their life within six months.

Among the more than 45 safeguards that must be met, the person must request to end their life voluntarily and directly and cannot be wanting to end their life only because of advanced age or disability. Two doctors would have to agree to the decision.