Details have been confirmed for an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia, to be carried out by Parliament's Health Committee.

Supporters hope the inquiry will be an important step towards a law change.

In releasing the terms of reference, National MP Simon O'Connor, the health committee chair, said the subject would concern many New Zealanders and as such deserved a thorough examination.

Today's announcement comes after a petition from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society by supporters including Matt Vickers, the husband of the late Lecretia Seales.

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The Wellington lawyer was unsuccessful in seeking a High Court ruling that would let her doctor help her die without criminal prosecution.

"The petitioners are requesting changes to laws that would make it possible for people to end their lives, or have others do so, under certain conditions. To ensure a thorough investigation, the select committee decided to undertake a broad inquiry," Mr O'Connor said.

The committee will now investigate all aspects of the issue, including the social, legal, medical, cultural, financial, ethical and philosophical implications.

Its inquiry will cover:

• The factors that contribute to the desire to end one's life.
•The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
• The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one's life, and the current legal situation.
• International experiences of the issue.
Mr O'Connor said the committee wants to hear from all interested groups and individuals.