Poll Shows Majority Of Florida Residents Oppose Terri’s Law

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 7, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Poll Shows Majority Of Florida Residents Oppose Terri’s Law

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 7, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — One of the few polls related to the plight of Terri Schiavo was released on Sunday and it shows that a strong majority of Florida residents are opposed to Terri’s Law, the legislation allowed Governor Jeb Bush to ask doctors to reinsert her feeding tube and save her life.

Conducted by The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times newspapers, the poll showed that 65 percent of Flordians said they opposed the law while 23 percent favored it. Some 12 percent were undecided or didn’t answer.

Respondents were asked: "As you may be aware, Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature recently passed a law enabling the governor to order that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube be reinserted, after a judge concluded she was in a persistent vegetative state and ordered the feeding tube to be removed. Do you agree or disagree with this decision by the governor and the legislature?"

Pro-life groups say the poll results are likely skewed in opposition to the law because the question describes Terri as being in a persistent vegetative state.

Numerous doctors have testified that she is not and they say Terri, provided with proper medical care and aggressive rehabilitation, could recover.

The newspapers’ poll also found that an overwhelming number of respondents say a spouse should determine whether an incapacitated person without a living will should be taken off life support.

"[There are] 75 percent of voters think that these types of decisions should be made by the spouse," pollster Rob Schroth told the St. Petersburg Times.

"Many commentators have written that Gov. Bush intervened in Terri’s case only for political gain. Obviously, these commentators were wrong," said Nancy Valko, a leading pro-life nurse who monitors end-of-life issues.

Schroth said that opposition to Terri’s Law ran across party lines, religious beliefs, age, income levels.

Only one-third of Republican voters agreed with the law while 16 percent of independent and Democratic voters did.

Sixty-three percent of voters aged 18-34 disagreed with the law while 68 percent of those over 65 did. The law found opposition from 57 percent of Catholics, 64 percent of Protestants, and 85 percent of Jewish state residents.

Only a majority of Hispanic voters favored the law with supporters outnumbering those opposing it by a 47 to 38 margin.

While three-fourths of voters said a spouse should make the decision about ending lifesaving medical treatment, only 45 percent of Hispanics said a spouse should decide while 36 percent said the parents should.

The poll is one of the only ones conducted related to the Terri Schiavo case, and no major national polls have been done.

WFTV in Orlando, Florida conducted an online poll on the Internet last week and nearly 6,000 people participated. Although the poll is not scientific, those taking the survey could answer only once.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed with Michael Schiavo’s attorney George Felos, an assisted suicide advocate, that Terri’s Law violates the Florida constitution.

Some 3,400 people, or 58 percent said it did not while 2334 people, 40 percent, said Terri’s Law was unconstitutional. Two percent said they were unsure.

Meanwhile, the newspaper poll found that 54 percent of Florida residents already had a living will or other advance directive spelling out the terms of medical care a person wants to receive should they become unable to give their consent for care in the future.

That figure is twice the national average and observers say it is likely because Florida has a significantly larger portion of retired and elderly residents than most states.

Washington polling firms Schroth & Associates and The Polling Company conducted the newspapers’ poll from December 1-3 and 800 registered voters were surveyed.

Schroth & Associates is a Democratic polling firm while The Polling Company is Republican.

The poll contains a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Related web sites:
Terri Schiavo’s family – https://www.terrisfight.org