Eleanor Ainge Roy, in the Guardian, reports on New Zealand’s support of euthanasia but not use of cannabis. October 2020.
New Zealanders have voted to legalise euthanasia for those with a terminal illness, in a victory for campaigners who say people suffering extreme pain should be given a choice over how and when to bring their life to a close.
The decision on whether to legalise euthanasia appeared as a referendum question on the 17 October general election ballot paper, alongside a second referendum question on whether to legalise cannabis – which did not succeed, according to preliminary results.
The results of the euthanasia referendum are binding and will see the act come into effect 12 months from the final results – on 6 November 2021. Assisted dying will be administered by the Ministry of Health.
Preliminary results announced on Friday by the electoral commission saw 65.2% of eligible voters tick “yes” to legalising euthanasia, with 33.8% ticking “no”.
Only 46.1 % of New Zealanders voted to legalise cannabis, while 53.1% voted no.
The referendum results so far do not include nearly half a million special votes, meaning the final results will not be confirmed until 6 November.
This has left cannabis supporters hoping special votes may be able to tip the outcome, but they would need to be overwhelmingly in favour – an outcome seen as slim.
For years support for euthanasia has hovered around the 60-70% mark in polls, with widespread backing across the political spectrum, from prime minister Jacinda Ardern to opposition leader Judith Collins.