Assisted dying to be legal in New Zealand from November

WELLINGTON (XINHUA) - New Zealand Minister of Health Andrew Little said on Tuesday (Oct 13) that the country's health system is ready for the implementation of the End of Life Choice Act, making assisted dying legal in New Zealand.

Mr Little said the law received 65.1 per cent support in a public referendum held alongside last year's general election and is due to come into force on Nov 7 this year.

Mr Little said the government has appointed a three-person specialist committee to oversee the operation of the act. Membership of the End of Life Review Committee includes a medical ethicist, a doctor specializing in end-of-life care and a health practitioner.

Mr Little said, "This independent review mechanism is one of the many safeguards put in place to ensure the service is operating in line with strict criteria set out by the Act."

Apart from the End of Life Review Committee, the New Zealand government also set up the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group, or Scenz, in August. Its responsibilities include maintaining a list of health practitioners providing assisted-dying services, and helping develop and oversee standards of care.

Mr Little said, "We expect that in most circumstances, these services will be provided in the community and will be free for people who meet the strict eligibility criteria."

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