By Vatican News.
New Zealand is to become the seventh country to allow assisted suicide.
Following a referendum during a General Election on October 17, preliminary results show 65.2% voted in favour of permitting euthanasia.
The law will allow terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request assisted suicide.
Those requesting euthanasia will have to be 18 years of age and will need the approval of two doctors.
The legislation will come into effect in November 2021.
Reacting to the result, the ethics expert for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference said the “approval of the End of Life Choice Act Referendum puts vulnerable people and those who care for them on an unwelcome and dangerous path”
Dr John Kleinsman noted that the introduction of the Act “will have a huge impact on all those who work with the dying – doctors, nurses and other health carers, as well as chaplains, priests and lay ministers.”
The expert, who is Director of the Bishops’ Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics, said over the coming months they would be reflecting “with these groups as to how the law will impact the people they care for, as well as the carers themselves.”
Dr Kleinsman underlined that “The law – which was opposed by most major healthcare groups - is broader in scope than other laws overseas and, relative to places such as Victoria, Australia, much weaker in terms of its safeguards.”
He also said, “This result goes against the tide of opinion worldwide with 33 jurisdictions around the world having rejected similar laws in the last five years, including the UK and Scotland, because of the risks posed for vulnerable people.”
“It will only be a matter of time” he added, “before our MPs come under pressure to broaden the law even more… This law puts us on a very dangerous path, and today is just the start.”