The New Zealand Parliament voted Wednesday to send the End of Life Choice Bill to a public vote.
The bill itself provides certain citizens with terminal illnesses the option to receive medical assistance in order to end their lives. There are a number of requirements that one must meet in order to be eligible to receive medical assistance in death. People who are looking to receive medical assistance in death must be 18 years old or over, a resident of New Zealand and must be suffering “from a terminal illness that is likely to end the person’s life within 6 months.” Additionally, the person must be “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capacity” and experiencing “unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.” Finally, the person must be competent enough “to make an informed decision about assisted dying.”
The bill also provides procedures and safeguards for those who decide to receive medical assistance in dying. The bill requires two different medical practitioners to independently decide that the person is eligible and competent to receive medical assistance in dying. The bill also requires that the person receiving medical aid in dying have control over when and how the medication is received. The person receiving the medical assistance in dying can also elect to not take the medication at all. Additionally, if the practitioner administering the medication suspects any pressure is being put on the patient, they must not administer the medication.
The bill is set to be voted on in a referendum that will ask whether members of the public support the bill.