WELLINGTON, New Zealand (ChurchMilitant.com) - New Zealand's parliament has passed a euthanasia bill, clearing it for a popular vote next year.
The End of Life Choice Bill passed 69-51 on Wednesday night (local time).
A crowd of protesters opposing the bill gathered outside the parliament building in Wellington on Wednesday. They carried signs with slogans such as "Do No Harm" and "This Bill Has Weak Safeguards."
Originally introduced to parliament back in 2017, the bill calls for legalizing euthanasia for terminally ill patients who are expected to pass away in less than six months.
Now that it has passed parliament, the next stage for the euthanasia bill is popular referendum. New Zealanders will have the chance to vote on euthanasia when they cast their ballots in the general election in 2020.
During deliberation Wednesday, member of Parliament (MP) David Seymour argued that the push for assisted dying was a grassroots movement, not a "well-oiled, well-funded lobby."
He cited statistics showing that the majority of New Zealanders want assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, and highlighted a number of safeguards contained in the latest version of the bill.
Seymour went on to blast opponents of euthanasia, accusing them of using "disgraceful" rhetoric.
Though the measure did pass, a number of MPs voiced stern opposition.
Dressed in all black, MP Harete Hipango slammed the measure as a "kill bill."
"This bill is a fraud, and it is flawed," she declared.
Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe argued that the euthanasia bill would disenfranchise New Zealand's indigenous Māori and would hurt the relationship between the Māori and "the Crown."
"It will disadvantage Māori further, in a system that already disadvantages Māori," Rurawhe predicted.
MP Chris Penk of the conservative-leaning National Party opined that the question politicians must ask themselves is "not whether some people will die in the way the bill allows, but whether many people could die in a way that the bill does not allow."
Citing a poll, Penk claimed many New Zealanders are misinformed about the nature of the bill.
New Zealand lawmakers' approval of medically-assisted death is the latest development in assisted suicide's growth around the world.
The euthanasia agenda has run rampant in some countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands. A study published in late September showed that a significant number of pediatricians in the Netherlands want legal euthanasia for children under 13. Already, terminally ill infants under a year old can be euthanized, and teenagers 13-16 years old can be euthanized if both they and their parents consent.
In Portugal, a bill legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide was narrowly defeated in parliament in May 2018.
Catholic teaching holds that assisted suicide and euthanasia are morally wrong.