An article that was published today on masslive.com under the title: Massachusetts Question 2 poll: support for 'death with dignity' declining; voters split.
The article stated:
According to the poll, conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 44 percent of voters support the initiative and 42 percent oppose it. Fourteen percent did not know or refused to answer.
That is a significant shift since the last time the Western New England University Polling Institute asked voters about “death with dignity,” in a survey done May 29 -31. That survey, also conducted for The Republican and MassLive.com, found that 60 percent of registered voters supported the initiative and 29 percent opposed it.
Tim Vercellotti, director of the Western New England University Polling Institute and a professor of political science, said in May the question had not yet secured a spot on the ballot, and the public had not been focusing on it. This fall, there has been more attention paid to the question, through news coverage, campaigning by interest groups and statements by religious leaders.
“We have a public that is much more focused on the question now, and hence we see the very different set of numbers,” Vercellotti said.The poll identified that people who regularly attend Church are likely to oppose assisted suicide.
One key factor for voters is religious observance. The poll found that more than three-quarters (76 percent) of both Catholics and Protestants who attend worship services at least once a week or almost every week oppose the “death with dignity” initiative. “Religiosity is playing a key role in driving opposition to this question,” Vercellotti said.
Around half of all Catholic and Protestant likely voters oppose it. The level of support was higher among voters with other religious affiliations (54 percent support it and 25 percent oppose it). By far the highest levels of support came from voters who identify as agnostic or atheist – 90 percent of those voters support the initiative and just 5 percent oppose it.
Vincent Fiore, 70, a Catholic retiree from Revere and a Democrat, is among those who plans to vote no for moral and religious reasons. “Let nature take its course, not somebody giving you pills to take,” Fiore said. “I don’t believe in that.”The poll indicates that Republicans and Independents are more likely to oppose assisted suicide.
According to the poll, Democrats were more likely to support the ballot initiative (54 percent) than independents (40 percent) or Republicans (28 percent). Vercellotti said that is not surprising since Republicans are more likely to identify as pro-life, and Democrats tend to favor more personal autonomy on social issues.Older voters are more likely to oppose assisted suicide.
Voters 65 and older were the age group least likely to support the initiative (39 percent support, compared to 47 percent support across all other age groups). Older voters were also the least likely to say they did not know. Vercellotti said that is likely because older voters tend have more personal experiences with people with terminal illness, and the issue is often one they have thought more about.The poll also found that people will oppose assisted suicide for personal reasons.
For many, the issue is intensely personal. Diane Kolakowski, 57, an independent voter from South Deerfield, saw her twin sister dying of cancer. “She suffered a lot, and she didn’t want to end her life early, but I’m also aware the medications they gave her to control the pain weren’t working,” Kolakowski said. “If someone doesn’t want to suffer, they shouldn’t have to.” Kolakowski said she believes it should be a personal choice how a patient approaches a terminal illness.
But Joan McDonough, 68, a Republican from Pembroke, said as soon as she read the ballot question, she thought about her own family and decided to oppose it. “All I could imagine is say my husband had a terminal illness and he just couldn’t bear it anymore and he decided to do this without telling me…I’d be devastated to come home and find my husband dead with a bottle next to him of pills that he’s taken,” she said. (The ballot initiative requires the prescribing physician to recommend that a patient notify the next of kin, but notification is not required.)The poll of 535 likely Massachusetts voters has a 4.2 percent margin of error.
Massachusetts voters need to Vote No on ballot Question 2.