Record number of Americans support assisted suicide: Gallup poll
June 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Almost three-quarters of Americans support assisted suicide, according to a new national poll – but a leading anti-euthanasia activist tells LifeSiteNews that there may be more to the story.
According to Gallup, its May 2015 poll of the American people found that 68 percent of the public supports allowing doctors "to assist the patient to commit suicide if the patient requests it," provided that the patient has an incurable illness "and is living in severe pain."
The last time support for assisted suicide was this high was in 2001. Since then, support has dipped as low as 51 percent, in 2013. However, a majority of Americans have supported assisted suicide for the nearly two decades Gallup has asked the question.
Gallup theorized that the drop in 2013, which culminated in four years of diminished support, may have been due to the discussions of death panels as part of the Affordable Care Act. Likewise, Gallup's analysis of the poll's results said that "this year finds an uptick in support for euthanasia after the high-profile story last year of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard."
"Dying from terminal brain cancer, Maynard left her home state of California, where physicians are barred from assisting suicide, and ended her life in Oregon, where the practice is legal," Gallup noted.
"Somewhat in response to this well-publicized story, the California state legislature is currently considering a bill that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide."
Anti-euthanasia expert Alex Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews that "the constant media barrage linked to the Brittany Maynard political campaign seems to have created enough fear in the public that they are moving away from caring for the vulnerable and towards killing the vulnerable."
Despite the poll's results, Schadenberg says support probably isn't as high as Gallup indicates. "Once legislators learn how the assisted suicide bills are worded and the effect of legalization, they are rejecting assisted suicide bills," he said.
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"The same effect occurred in Scotland, where the assisted suicide bill was defeated by a 82-36 margin. The Care Not Killing Alliance in Scotland was effective in explaining how the language of the assisted suicide bill was very dangerous and how the assisted suicide bill, if legalized, would effect the Scottish culture," he told LifeSiteNews.
Support climbed most quickly for 18- to 34-year-olds. Last year, 62 percent of young people supported assisted suicide; this year, 81 percent did.
Support among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents also climbed dramatically, with Independents jumping from 64 percent support to 80 percent.
Gallup also noted that while there is usually a drop in support for assisted suicide when the word "suicide" replaces the term "ending a patient's life by some painless means," this year support was virtually identical even when Gallup used the more blunt world.
The survey also found that more Americans found assisted suicide to be a moral practice than ever before. Two years ago, 49 percent of the public found assisted suicide "morally acceptable"; today, that number is 56 percent.
In light of the poll, Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews that "there needs to be a major campaign exposing the culture to the effects of legalizing assisted suicide, a campaign that would establish the problems with assisting suicide in the minds of the people."