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Majority of Canadians oppose forcing hospitals and doctors to kill: euthanasia poll

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TORONTO, April 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — An Angus Reid poll shows a majority of Canadians disagree with several of the federal all-party committee’s recommendations on regulating assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Most strikingly, 78 percent of those Angus Reid surveyed oppose euthanasia for people who have psychological suffering but are not terminally ill.

That rose to 86 percent for respondents aged 55 or older, who were “especially vehement” that “psychological suffering should not, on its own, be grounds for assisted death.”

And 68 percent of respondents opposed forcing religiously-affiliated hospitals to participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide, while 62 percent opposed forcing religiously-affiliated nursing homes to take part in killing their patients.

Only 36 percent of those surveyed agreed with compelling medical professionals opposed to euthanasia to provide an “effective” referral,  that is, to a doctor who is willing to kill their patient.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents supported a waiting period, in contrast with the committee’s recommendation for no waiting period between a patient being approved for assisted suicide or euthanasia and the assisted killing of the person.

Angus Reid surveyed 1,517 Canadian adult members of the Angus Reid Forum online between March 21 to 24 for the poll, which it says has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The parliamentary committee’s 21 recommendations, tabled in Parliament in February, are intended to provide the Liberals with a framework for a new law, following the Supreme Court’s Carter decision striking down the current law as unconstitutional.

The Carter decision takes effect June 6, 2016. The Liberals are expected to introduce legislation on April 11.

The committee’s recommendations include euthanasia for psychological suffering alone, advance directives for euthanasia for people with degenerative disorders, euthanasia for mature minors in two-stage legislative rollout over three years, and forcing all publicly funded institutions to kill patients on request.

The Angus Reid poll shows that the government committee’s report and the view of Canadians are “world’s apart, that’s the significance,” noted Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Poll respondents were almost evenly split on the question of regulating assisted suicide and euthanasia, with 40 percent favouring “strict regulations” and 10 percent wanting a complete prohibition, as opposed to 39 percent favouring “only limited regulations allowing access to most adults” and 12 percent supporting no regulations at all.

The data shows “a clear division,” Schadenberg said, with a total of 50 percent of Canadians polled opposed, that is, “40 percent want strong, strong, strong restrictions, and 10 percent want no euthanasia at all."

That’s a change from surveys taken before the Supreme Court struck down the current law, he noted.

“Acceptance of euthanasia is based on the fact that Canadians feel that they have no choice on it,” Schadenberg said.

“A lot of Canadians would say ‘I don’t really like that idea’,” but consider that it’s now a fait accompli, and therefore they “would want severe restrictions. They go from being opposed to a strong restrictions category.”

Schadenberg noted on his blog that the poll revealed “limited support” for euthanasia and assisted suicide under certain circumstances.

Only 21 percent of Canadians support assisted suicide and euthanasia “when the cost of a patient’s care is very expensive to the health care.”  

Twenty-six percent of respondents supported assisted suicide and euthanasia “when a person’s care is perceived as a burden to their family”; 31 percent “when a person has no hope for the future and finds no meaning in their life” and 36 percent “when a person with multiple conditions like arthritis and diabetes feels overwhelmed and wants to die.”

The poll revealed “deep divisions – particularly along religious lines – over the proposed regulations governing such procedures,” according to Angus Reid’s statement.

“Canada’s two most predominant Christian groups tend to be more likely to prefer a full prohibition of assisted dying (11 percent among Catholics and 17 percent among Protestants).”

On the other hand, “non-religious groups are more likely to prefer no regulation at all (18 percent of atheists/agnostics and 15 percent of those claiming ‘no religious identity’).”

Find the full poll results here.

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