Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Assisted Suicide poll - shows that Canadians are divided on the issues.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Angus Reid Institute completed an assisted suicide poll  in late November that shows that Canadians are divided and conflicted on the issues, and that a negative experience with palliative care directly effects the opinion of people on the issues.

In its description of the survey results, the Angus Reid Institute states:

Canadians express moderate to strong support for changes in legislation that would allow physicians to help patients who want to commit suicide, but the specific circumstances that might justify this course of action suggest deep divisions in public opinion. 
Canadians’ views on doctor-assisted suicide vary significantly based on the perceptions of recent experiences with loved ones receiving end-of-life care. 
Those reporting a negative experience with palliative and hospice based care are significantly more likely to support physician-assisted suicide.
... In the middle is the largest group of Canadians who are open to the arguments in favour of a new overall approach in law, but who remain highly uneasy about specifics.
The poll found support for assisted suicide as: 37% of Canadians strongly supported, 42% somewhat supported, 8% somewhat opposed, and 10% strongly opposed. 

That means that 50% of Canadians remain conflicted on the issue. These are people who support or oppose assisted suicide based on the circumstances of the legislation.

When examining the scenarios whereby the participants supported assisted suicide, you notice that support exists only for the worst case scenario situations and under all other circumstances the poll indicates that the majority opposed assisted suicide. Support existed under the condition of a terminally ill person who is suffering a great deal of pain and when the person does not have access to medical care for pain and suffering.

There was also support for assisted suicide when a person had Alzheimer's, had a loss of awareness and incontinent. People with disabilities are right to be concerned that assisted suicide could easily be extended to conditions related to their living conditions.

It is interesting to note that 63% of the participants who had a bad experience with palliative care stated that they strongly supported assisted suicide.

The Angus Reid Institute poll confirms that the Federal and Provincial governments need to improve end-of-life care across Canada. 

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