Residents of Mexico, Italy Have Different Euthanasia Views Polls Show

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 5, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Residents of Mexico, Italy Have Different Euthanasia Views Polls Show Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 5
, 2006

Mexico City, Mexico ( — New polls of citizens of Mexico and Italy show that residents in the two nations have different views of euthanasia and when doctors should be allowed to assist patients in killing themselves. The surveys show Mexicans more likely than Italians to oppose euthanasia.

In Mexico, the Parametría polling firm surveyed 1,000 Mexican adults in September and asked whether a physician should be able to end the life of a patient in the event "a group of specialists deems that his or her disease is incurable."

The survey found that 46 percent of Mexicans disagree with euthanasia in such a case while 39 percent supported killing the patient in that circumstance.

A large group of 15 percent of respondents were undecided.

The survey also showed that a majority of Mexicans opposed physician assisted suicide in cases where a patient suffers from an incurable disease.

In that case, 49 percent of those polled disagreed while just 41 percent supported assisted suicide. Another 9 percent were undecided.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali finds that the number of Italians who support euthanasia is rising.

Now, 57 percent of Italians say that patients with incurable diseases, or close family members of those patients, the right to ask for the interruption of medical treatment. Just 50 percent of Italians agreed with that in 2003.

Some 43 percent of those polled said that everything should be done that’s possible in helping the patient stay alive.

The Italian poll is important because, in September, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called for the country’s parliament to debate the subject of euthanasia.

But, the call for a euthanasia debate drew strong condemnation from some lawmakers and the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, called euthanasia tantamount to assassination. He said "euthanasia amounts to murder, it’s as simple as that, and therefore it can never be allowed."

Barragan said that Catholic MPs would be under a "moral obligation" to oppose any efforts to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.

He also said that more should be done to provide palliative care for such patients rather than authorizing doctors to kill patients.

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, a member of the center-left Catholic Daisy party, agreed and said "we are against euthanasia — the center left is against euthanasia."

Health Minister Livia Turco, a member of the Democratic Left who has come under fire for promoting the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug and embryonic stem cell research, also said she opposes euthanasia.

Forza Italia, the party of opposition chief and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, also opposes any efforts to legalize the grisly practice and said in a statement to ANSA that a debate would mean "splitting the country in two without obtaining any positive results."