New Zealand votes to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill patients

A woman places her referendum voting paper in the ballot box as advance voting begins on October 3 in Wellington, New Zealand.

(CNN)New Zealanders have voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia for people with a terminal illness -- clearing the way for the controversial proposition to become law in 2021.

More than 65% of voters backed the proposed law, according to preliminary results of a referendum announced by the country's electoral commission Friday.
Lawmakers voted 69-51 to approve the End of Life Choice Act 2019 last year before sending the issue to a referendum.
    More than 2.4 million people took part in the poll, which was conducted alongside New Zealand's general election on October 17. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won the election by a landslide, securing a second term and an unprecedented majority for her center-left Labour Party.
    New Zealanders were also asked to vote on whether cannabis should be legalized -- 53.1% said no.
    New Zealand Electoral Commission information materials on the End of Life Choice (euthanasia) and Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendums.
    Official results of the euthanasia vote will be published November 6, and the law will take effect one year later.
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