Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gallup: Support for assisted suicide fluctuates based on the wording of the question.

Support for assisted suicide in America is at a low when the question includes the word "suicide"

By Alex Schadenberg, 
International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

A Gallup survey conducted (May 2 - 7, 2013) found that support for assisted suicide fluctuates by almost 20% based on the wording of the question.

The survey found that: 
51% of Americans support assisted suicide when the process is described as doctors helping a patient "commit suicide" while 70% of Americans supported assisted suicide when it was described as allowing doctors to "end the patient's life by some painless means."
The report from Gallup stated:
Gallup has asked both questions of U.S. adults aged 18 and older annually since 2001, as part of its Values and Beliefs survey. This year's update was based on interviews with 1,535 adults, and each question was asked of a separate half-sample.
Gallup reported that support for assisted suicide is down in recent years. The recent Gallup poll indicated that 45% of Americans were opposed to assisted suicide, which is the highest level since the poll question began in 1996. Gallup reported that:
... current support -- with 51% of Americans in favor and 45% opposed -- is similar to that of the previous three years, and is nearly identical to attitudes in 1996. In the interim, support steadily rose to 68% by 2001 and remained above 60% through 2004, after which it started to falter.
We learned from the recent defeat of the assisted suicide referendum in Massachusetts that once people learn more about assisted suicide, they become less likely to support it. 

Polling originally indicated that people in Massachusetts supported assisted suicide. After a good campaign informing Massachusetts voters of what assisted suicide is, it was defeated.

Several years ago I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference. The euthanasia lobby knew from polling and focus groups that changing the language of the debate and message discipline would lead to more support for assisted suicide and euthanasia. 

The Gallup survey report concluded that:
A wording that refers to the patient's intention to end his or her life as "suicide," doesn't say family members are involved in the decision, and doesn't specify that the procedure will involve "painless means" produces lower support than the alternative wording. However, the resulting difference offers important insights into the complex nature of Americans' views on this question, as well as the negative connotation suicide has, generally. Underscoring this, the same poll finds just 16% of Americans saying suicide is morally acceptable. At the same time, the public is evenly split over whether "doctor-assisted suicide" is morally acceptable: 45% say it is, and 49% say it is not.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has also learned that certain language is more effective. We agree with the Gallup poll that the use of the term assisted suicide or assisting a suicide is more effective than terms like: prescribed death, aid in dying or assisted dying.

Links to previous polling information.
- Do Americans want to legalize assisted suicide?
- Canadians want good end-of-life care not euthanasia or assisted suicide.
- More Americans believe that assisted suicide is morally wrong.
- Why the assisted suicide referendum was defeated in Massachusetts.


Winston said...

Support is consistently over 50% when we look at the consistently high rates of jury acquittals.

Winston said...

Another instance of anti-choicers losing.

Alex Schadenberg said...

The death squad has lost in nearly every attempt Winston.

I know your working hard to convince people that it is OK to kill others and that people with disabilities and other vulnerable people don't matter, but of course Hitler thought the same thing.

Winston said...

Really, Alex? Kevorkian was acquitted several times before he was convicted. If public support was so brittle, as you claim, why are juries so reluctant to convict?

Why are prosecutors to reluctant to prosecute?

And thanks for trivialising the Holocaust yet again. Let me say this - at least Hitler's victims were not tortured for months until they died.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Winston said...

What makes you think there's less abuse in Canada now? No one is investigated, let alone prosecuted.

Here are some further cases of the pro-torture side losing:

Alex Schadenberg said...


Your insane. There is no one in our movement that are interested in anyone being tortured.

We believe in caring for people not killing them.

You need to consider how your philosophy of life will result in the killing of many people without choice.

I do not trust doctors not because they are terrible people but because many of them have been influenced by people from your movement and have come to believe that they should decide who lives and who dies.

Winston said...

I don't care what your intentions are. I'm interested in the outcomes of your policies. And those policies do lead to torture.

You're ignoring the significant levels of involuntary euthanasia that exist right now, especially in countries such as Australia.

The link will take you directly to a PDF file of the data.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Legalizing euthanasia will only lead to more involuntary euthanasia.

You admit that doctors already make decisions to take life.

Why give them more power?

Winston said...

When (not if) voluntary euthanasia is legalised, patients will have more power. Scrutiny and oversight will reduce the incidence of involuntary euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg said...

My point exactly. There is a lack of scrutiny and oversight now and nothing would change with legalization except more opportunity to kill.

Doctors are not moral agents they are human beings. No one should be given the power to kill another person. That power will be used and will be abused.

Your living in a dream world if you think there will be more oversight when its legal to kill than when its illegal to kill.

Winston said...

Why would oversight, scrutiny and the requirement of informed consent lead to more deaths against the patients' wishes?

You've either ignored or misinterpreted the data in the link I provided.