Daily US Times: After years of emotional debate, New Zealanders have voted to legalize euthanasia in the preliminary results of a referendum held in mid-October.
The results in Friday showed 65.2% of voters supported the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force as a new law.
The law will allow terminally ill people, with less than six months to live, the opportunity to choose assisted dying, but it has to be approved by two doctors.
The referendum is binding and the new law will come into effect in November 2021.
The results do not include an estimated 480,000 special votes, including overseas and postal ballots, so the final outcome will not be confirmed until next Friday. But with such strong support, the result is not expected to change.
The result will see the country join a small group of countries, including Canada and the Netherlands which allow euthanasia.
The referendum on the topic was held alongside the general election earlier this month. In a separate non-binding referendum held at the same time, where voters narrowly rejected a proposal to legalise recreational cannabis.
The preliminary results on the cannabis vote was 53.1% no and 46.1% yes – though there are chances this result might be changed when the special votes are counted.
What has the reaction been?
The “yes” verdict had been anticipated after polls before the refurendum suggested strong public support for the law, which was also backed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the opposition leader, Judith Collins.
But it was the result of a hard-fought campaign with strong views on both sides of the aisles.