Wellington, New Zealand, Nov 13, 2019 / 10:52 am (CNA).- The New Zealand Parliament voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide Wednesday, sending the bill to a referendum next year.
The End of Life Choice Bill was passed Nov. 13 by a vote of 69-51.
It would allow terminally ill persons who have six months or fewer to live to be euthanized or to themselves take a lethal dose of prescribed drugs, on the condition that two doctors agree the person is well-informed.
An earlier version of the bill would have allowed those with severe or incurable conditions to seek euthanasia or assisted as well.
The bill was introduced by David Seymour of ACT New Zealand, a crossbench, libertarian party.
It is supported by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the New Zealand Labour Party.
Maggie Barry, a member of parliament of the opposition New Zealand National Party, said the bill is “dangerous and permissive,” according to Reuters.
A 2017 inquiry prepared by the health committee of the 51st New Zealand Parliament (which was controlled by the National Party) did not recommend the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“We've tried to distil all the arguments and our recommendation to both the Parliament and the people of New Zealand is to read this report and come to a deeper understanding of what's been asked around assisted suicide and euthanasia,” Simon O’Connor, then-chair of the health committee, said in August 2017.
When the National Party was governing, it concluded that “the public would be endangered” by legalization of the practices.
Submissions “cited concern for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and those susceptible to coercion. Others argued that life has an innate value and that introducing assisted dying and euthanasia would explicitly undermine that idea. To do so would suggest that some lives are worth more than others. There were also concerns that, once introduced, eligibility for assisted dying would rapidly expand well beyond what was first intended,” the report of the health committee of the 51st parliament read.
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