Friday, February 12, 2010

Poll: Sharp divisions on euthanasia

Joel Connelly from the Seattle PI online news wrote this article concerning an Angus Reid poll that shows once again that Americans are divided on allowing physicians to directly and intentionally cause the death of a person. What is important is that a majority (52%) agreed that legalizing induced death would leave vulnerable people without sufficient legal protection.

I am convinced that when the issue is presented based on people with disabilities expressing that legalizing assisted suicide makes them feeling threatened, or based on the reality of elder abuse, that we win the on the issue.

The article:
A new Angus Reid poll find that 42 percent of American adults are in favor of making euthanasia legal in the United States, although 52 percent feel legalizing induced death would leave vulnerable people without sufficient legal protection.

The survey steered clear using such deliberately non-threatening terms as "Death With Dignity" favored by supporters of assisted suicide. In the 2008 election, by a 58 percent to 42 percent vote, Washington became the second U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In its poll of 1,001 American adults, taken Feb. 4 and 5, Reid asked:
"Generally speaking, do you support or oppose legalizing euthanasia in the United States?"

The results: 14 percent answered "Strongly Support," 28 percent "Moderately Support", 14 percent "Moderately Oppose," and 23 percent "Strongly Oppose." A total of 22 percent were not sure.

A near-majority of Democrats (47 percent) support euthanasia, while a bare majority of Republicans (51 percent) oppose it. A total of 47 percent of Independents backed legalized euthanasia.

Still, the public has reservations about induced and assisted death.

The poll asked if people felt that legalizing euthanasia "would leave vulnerable people without sufficient protection." Fifty-two percent agreed, 32 percent disagreed, 15 percent were unsure.

As well, Reid asked if legalizing euthanasia "would send the message that the lives of the sick or disabled are of less valued. The poll's respondents split down the middle, 44 percent in agreement, 44 percent disagreeing, with 12 percent unsure.

A contrasting opinion came when the pollster asked if legalizing euthanasia "would give people who are suffering an opportunity to ease their pain." Seventy percent agreed, only 19 percent disagreed.

The public seemed compassionate toward those making life-or-death choices.

"Do you think people who help a person to commit suicide should be prosecuted?" Reid asked.

Thirty-seven percent said "Yes," 34 percent answered "No," with 28 percent "Not Sure." Independent voters were strongest in saying those who assist suicide should not be prosecuted.

The poll put a related question more bluntly:

"If a parent is found guilty of assisting a terminally ill son or daughter to die, what do you think should be the appropriate punishment."

Just 6 percent opted for life imprisonment, and only 21 percent for any prison sentence, with 12 percent favoring a fine. Thirty-five percent opted for "No Penalty at All", while 26 percent were unsure.

Advocates of Washington's assisted suicide measure, led by former Gov. Booth Gardner, spent $4.8 million on their successful 2008 campaign.

The Washington vote gave momentum to a movement stalled for more than a decade after Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

Link to the article: http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/archives/194204.asp

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