New Zealand lawmakers pass euthanasia bill, referendum next

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand lawmakers have voted in favor of a bill to legalize euthanasia, a watershed moment that ended a contentious two-year debate.

But the final decision will rest with New Zealand voters, who will need to approve the bill in a referendum next year for it to go into effect. Polls have indicated a majority of voters support the measure.

In the bill's final vote Wednesday, 69 lawmakers supported it while 51 were opposed. People in the public gallery cheered and clapped when the results were read out.

The bill applies only to people who are terminally ill and likely to die within six months. To be eligible under the bill, a person must be in irreversible physical decline and experience "unbearable suffering" that cannot be relieved.

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