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Report No. 196

New Zealand

In New Zealand, voluntary euthanasia is illegal. The Death with Dignity Bill, 2003 which intended to provide terminally and incurably ill people to seek medical help to end their lives was defeated in Parliament on 30th July 2003. (The Bill permitted 'assisted suicide')

Voluntary euthanasia is allowed only in two countries, Netherlands and Belgium and it was permissible for a short period in Australia's Northern Territory during 1996-97. Oregon permitted physician-assisted suicide in 1994.

Section 179 of the Crimes Act, 1961 (NZ) stipulated a prison term of 14 years to every person who

(g) incites, counsels or procures any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof; or

(h) aids or abets any person in the commission of suicide.

Section 151stated that every one who has charge of any other person unable, by reason of detention, age, sickness, insanity, or any other cause, to withdraw himself from such charge, and unable to provide himself with the necessaries of life, is (whether such charge is undertaken by him under any contract or is imposed upon him by law or by reason of his unlawful act or otherwise howsoever) under a legal duty to supply that person with the necessaries of life, and is criminally responsible for omitting without lawful excuse to perform such duty if the death of that person is caused, or if his life is endangered or his health is permanently injured, by such omission.

Under section 8 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, 1996, 'No one shall be deprived of life except on such grounds as are established by law and are consistent with the principles of fundamental justice'.

We shall refer to a case in New Zealand decided by Thomas J, interpreting the above sections. This judgment of Thomas J received praise at the hands of the House of Lords in Airedale.

Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Back

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