• Hithesh Jain

New Zealand Votes to Legalise Euthanasia, But Not Cannabis

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Shilpa Harikumar 2nd November 2020

International- In preliminary referendum results released on Friday—65.2 percent of voters in New Zealand has voted in favour of the ‘End of Life Choice Act 2019’ which aims to legalise euthanasia.

Cyclist rides across a sign urging voters to vote in favour of legalising cannabis (Source- The Guardian)

As reported by Times Now, the referendum with two questions about the legalisation of both cannabis and euthanasia was held on October 17 during the general election. Only about 83 per cent of votes have been counted as the preliminary results do not include over 480,000 special votes, which include those cast by overseas voters. The sponsor of the End of Life Choice Act and MP of ACT party—libertarian David Seymour said it was a ‘resounding victory’ that would make New Zealand more compassionate and humane.

Preliminary results for the non-binding referendum regarding the legalisation of recreational cannabis were not as victorious. It showed 53.1 percent opposing the motion compared to 46.1 percent in favour of it.Pro-cannabis voters reportedly hold out hope considering that the special votes –which tend to be significantly more liberal than general votes –have not yet been accounted for.

According to the End of Life Choice act—the criteria to apply for assisted death includes that the applicant is suffering from a terminal illness with less than six months to live. It also demands the applicant be a New Zealand citizen aged 18 or above. Applications from those with advanced age, minor disabilities or mental illnesses would not be eligible. Two doctors including an independent one would have to sign off on the decision and may call in a psychiatrist in cases of doubt.The debate about euthanasia was initiated by lawyer Lecretia Seales who persistently fought to legalise mercy killing until her demise in 2015 from a brain tumour.

The Hindu reported that, the cannabis bill would allow citizens over 20 years of age to buy up to 14 grams a day and grow two plants. Even if voters approved the referendum—being a non-binding vote would require the legislation to be passed for implementation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office confirmed that she voted ‘yes’ in both referendums. She has also reportedly agreed to respect the final outcome and bring forward the legislation if necessary.The results are to be declared on November 6.

(Sources- The Guardian, Times Now, The Hindu)

Edited by- Hithesh Jain

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