New Zealand’s Parliament voted in favour of introducing assisted suicide, and the public will vote in a referendum to decide the issue next year.
The Bill would give people with a terminal illness, and believed to have less than six months to live, the option of requesting assisted suicide. It was passed by 69 votes to 51.
The measure must now be approved in a national referendum before the change can become law.
Maggie Barry, from the New Zealand National Party, said that the Bill was effectively telling disabled people that they were “too expensive to keep alive”.
Alfred Ngato MP also highlighted that “organisations at the coalface of providing end-of-life care, like hospices, are opposed to this bill because it is unsafe”.
“too expensive to keep alive”
Several political parties made their support for the Bill conditional on a referendum, which will be held on the same day as the New Zealand General Election 2020.
The referendum will also ask the public to vote on legalising cannabis for recreational use.
The legislation says that if a majority support the change, then the Bill will come into force.
A record 39,000 people responded to the official consultation on the Bill, with over 90% expressing opposition.
Writing in The Guardian, disability rights campaigner Wendi Wicks described the Bill as “dangerous”.
She said: “It’s disturbing when laws are put up that mean the state will provide the means to die, not live.”
Last month a report in the US suggested that legalising assisted suicide discourages medical treatment.
The National Council on Disability’s (NCD) report found that people with diabetes and arthritis are being encouraged to undergo assisted suicide in states where the law has changed.
It highlighted how instead of expanding ‘choice’, assisted suicide laws “often remove choices”.