Eligibility for assisted dying
There are strict eligibility criteria for assisted dying
Not everyone with a terminal illness will be eligible for assisted dying. The eligibility criteria are set out in law. To be eligible, the person must meet all of the following criteria:
- be aged 18 years or over
- be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand
- suffer from a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six months
- be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability
- experience unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable
- be competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying.
The person can’t access assisted dying solely because they have a mental disorder or mental illness, have a disability, or are of advanced age.
Being competent to make an informed decision
The person must be assessed as being competent to make an informed choice about assisted dying. This means that the person is able to understand, retain, use, and weigh relevant information about assisted dying, and can communicate their decision in some way.
The person must be considered competent throughout the assessment process and must also be competent at the time of the assisted death. This means if the person who is found eligible for assisted dying then loses competency, they will not be able to have an assisted death.
Advance directives cannot be used for assisted dying in New Zealand. An advance directive is a statement setting out ahead of time what treatment the person wants, or does not want, to receive in the future.