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Communtity Law Manual | A death in the family | Euthanasia and assisted dying

Euthanasia and assisted dying

Overview

Assisted dying is currently a criminal offence

Crimes Act 1961, s 179

Helping a terminally ill person to end their life is currently a crime in New Zealand. It comes under the offence of “aiding and abetting suicide”, which makes it illegal to encourage or help someone to commit suicide. You can be jailed for up to 14 years for this if the other person does in fact end their life, or tries to.

If they don’t commit suicide or try to, it’s still a criminal offence, but the maximum penalty is a three-year jail term.

Euthanasia to become legal in New Zealand

The 2020 General Election on 19 September 2020 included a referendum on assisted dying. The End of Life Choice Act 2019, which gives people the option of asking for assisted dying, was passed by Parliament, and would only come into legal force if more than 50% of voters supported it in the referendum. The referendum results revealed that a majority of voters supported the law coming into force. The End of Life Choice Act will come into force in November 2021.

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