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What is meant by “end-of-life choice”, “assisted dying” and “voluntary euthanasia”?

These terms all refer to the same thing: the legal option for people to request a doctor to hasten their own death, should they find themselves with a terminal or irreversibly progressive disease that causes them unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved.

How can I obtain an assisted death?

You will need to meet all of the following eligibility criteria, as assessed and agreed by two unrelated doctors:

  • Aged 18 years or over and
  • A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and
  • Diagnosed with a terminal illness that is likely to end your life within 6 months or less and
  • In an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability and
  • Experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in any manner tolerable to you and
  • Be uncoerced and
  • Be mentally competent to understand what you are asking and to understand the implications for you if you decide to go through with an assisted death.

Assisted dying is not available to those applying solely on grounds of disability or of mental illness.  It is not available via Advance Directive or once mental competency has been lost, e.g. due to advancing dementia.

Please see the "Are you eligible?" page on our website for current information.    If you believe you are eligible for assisted dying and wish to pursue this path, you must take the first step by initiating a request. It is illegal for your doctor to raise the topic of assisted dying with you, but your doctor can respond if you ask about it.

How will the Act impact disabled people?

There are two primary but opposing issues of concern for the disability community.

  1. That disabled people may be at risk by the legislation because of potential coercion by family and other influencers who may wish to use the Act to hasten their death. 
  2. That disabled people may be denied access to the legislation because they may be wrongly assessed as not competent to make an informed decision to end their life. 

We will ensure that these issues are well understood and that appropriate mitigation against these scenarios is included in the Act’s policies and procedures.

What will it cost me to obtain an assisted death?

Assisted Dying is a free service. Any other medical expenses will be payable by you in the normal way.

What’s happening overseas regarding assisted dying? 

As of January 2021, assisted dying legislation covered some 250 – 300 million people worldwide.   These include entire countries such as Canada, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, but also states such as California US and all of the Australian states with the exception of NSW.  We believe there is no turning back the tide of right-to-die movements around the globe, as practical experience explodes the fearful myths and dire predictions, giving way to the reality of a peaceful, lawful death.   Our own End of Life Choice Act comes into force on 7 November 2021.

Do you promote Advance Directives?

The Society has promoted Advance Directives for many years.  Although our current legislation does not allow assisted dying by means of an Advance Directive, we still believe it to be an excellent document for all people to have all through their adult life.  It is an alternative for those who do not meet the eligibility criteria for assisted dying but who do not wish to prolong their life under certain circumstances.  An Advance Directive makes use of people’s legal rights to refuse or reject unwanted treatment or medication.   Please download our free-of-charge Advance Directive booklet and form here » 

Do you support palliative care?

The Society strongly supports palliative care and believes that most people and their families find it very helpful at the end of life.  We also support increased government funding for palliative care and an expansion of its services.  However, we know from personal experience as well as from international research that some diseases and conditions do not respond to even the best of palliative care.  Under those circumstances, we believe assisted dying is a compassionate alternative.

How can I support the End-of-Life Choice Society?

Become a member, or sign up to receive our newsletters or make a donation. Your support will always be appreciated – and always much needed.

Who is behind the End-of-Life Choice Society?

We are an incorporated society of ordinary citizens from all walks of life.  We share a common belief that it is cruel and inhumane to force someone to die in unbearable suffering against that person’s will.  We operate by means of annual membership fees and donations. We have been active in New Zealand for 44 years and used to be known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand. 

Why do you support assisted dying?

Many people would prefer an earlier death to a longer life of extreme suffering. Most of the Society’s members have witnessed the agonising deaths of one or more people they have loved and do not want their own death to be similar, nor do they wish to see others forced to endure the same.

What specific actions do you take to support legalising assisted dying in New Zealand?

  • We lobby parliamentarians to make changes to the law so that assisted dying becomes available and accessible to those who need it. 
  • We counter misinformation about assisted dying in the media, via our online presence and by providing information to the public at face-to-face events.  Please see our website and Facebook page.
  • We maintain ongoing communication with the Ministry of Health which oversees the implementation of the End-of-Life Choice Act 2019, which comes into force on 7 November 2021.  We advise the MoH on best practice implementation drawn from overseas examples. 
  • We inform the public on the progress of assisted dying legislation in other countries and jurisdictions. 

Who was involved in the End-of-Life Choice campaign? Which organisations played part in this?

The Society was very active in this campaign through articles published in the media, through its online presence and media appearances (TV/radio) and through local events providing face-to-face information.  

We were supported by Doctors for End-of-Life Choice New Zealand, a group of retired and working medical professionals. This group presented arguments for and evidence of the need for assisted dying legalisation via medical journals, opinion pieces and media appearances.

Finally, we are grateful to the “Yes for Compassion” organisation  which undertook a large-scale, professional media campaign designed to counter the misinformation put about during the passage of the Act through parliament and during the referendum period. 


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