California Residents Support Assisted Suicide While Americans Split

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Residents Support Assisted Suicide While Americans Split Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 20, 2006

Sacramento, CA ( — A new poll shows a majority of California residents favor assisted suicide and backers of the grisly practice may use the poll to promote a measure in the California state legislature to make the state the second to legalize it. However, previous polls have not matched what Californians have done at the ballot box on the issue.

A Field Poll released last week finds 70 percent of adults and 69 percent of registered voters favor the idea of assisted suicide while 23 percent do not.

The gap narrows considerably when residents are asked if they want California to approve legislation to legalize assisted suicide.

Then, just 57 percent support it while 34 percent say no and a majority of Hispanics oppose assisted suicide legislation by a 50-42 percentage margin.

A February 2006 survey of Hispanics on assisted suicide found 64 percent of California Latinos oppose it while just 29 percent are supportive.

Dr. Philip Dreisbach, a Palm Springs board-certified oncologist, told the Desert Sun newspaper that assisted suicide was not a good idea. He said good quality hospice care and pain management make it unnecessary because pain is alleviated and patients can receive proper end-of-life counseling.

"The good practices of hospices that we work with make it stupid" to legalize assisted suicide, he said.

Tim Rosales of Californians Against Assisted Suicide says polls in California on assisted suicide have typically been meaningless as they’ve always showed an overwhelming majority of residents favoring it. Yet, when state residents have gone to the ballot box to vote on initiatives to legalize assisted suicide, they’ve voted no.

In 1992, Prop 161 failed 8 points on a 46-54 percent vote against it though polls beforehand showed voters favored assisted suicide by a 74 to 24 percent margin.

Rosales points to nationwide polls showing California residents out of step with the rest of the country.

An August 2005 Pew Research survey found only 44 percent of people "Favor making it legal for doctors to Assist in suicide." A May 2005 Gallup Poll found a close 49-42 percent split in favor of assisted suicide and a November 2004 CBS News survey determined that Americans were split 46-45 percent on the issue.

After conducing it’s poll less than two years ago, CBS News said "Public support for physician-assisted suicide is now at the lowest point since the CBS News/New York Times Poll began asking the question in 1990. Prior to this poll, more than half of the public had said physician-assisted suicide should be allowed."

Related web sites:
Californians Against Assisted Suicide –


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