Poll Shows Britons Favor Euthanasia, Showing of Assisted Suicide on Television

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Poll Shows Britons Favor Euthanasia, Showing of Assisted Suicide on Television

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 15
, 2008

London, England (LifeNews.com) — Following the controversial screening of an assisted suicide on a television program last week, a new poll finds Britons favoring euthanasia. The YouGov poll also shows a majority of English residents had no problem with televising the disabled man’s death.

The poll, conducted for the London Times, surveyed more than 2,000 people and found that half (61 percent) would consider an assisted suicide for themselves while 15 percent would not and the rest were undecided.

The survey also showed 61 percent believed there was no problem with Sky TV showing the death of Craig Ewert, who killed himself in an assisted suicide in Switzerland. Just 27 percent were opposed to the screening.

Another 85 percent of Britons agreed with the decision of prosecutors to not charge relatives in the recent case of Daniel James, who also killed himself at a foreign "euthanasia clinic."

Another 69 percent believe the nation’s law should be changed to make it legal to help a relative go to another country to get an assisted suicide with facing charges upon their return.

Current British law makes it a 14-year prison sentence for anyone who helps a relative go to another country for an assisted suicide. However, none of the 100 or so people who have been involved in such cases have been prosecuted.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, a pro-euthanasia group, said she thinks the poll shows the nation’s laws are out of step with the public.

Pro-life advocates in England were upset that the Sky Real Lives channel televised Ewert’s death.

Anthony Ozimic of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told LifeNews.com, "Focusing on one case will have a disproportionate effect on the debate on assisted suicide, skewing viewer’s perceptions."

Ozimic said Sky should focus instead on the kinds of help and care available for patients like Ewert.

"Many people, including patients themselves, don’t know that palliative care is highly successful in alleviating the symptoms of motor neurone disease. Craig Ewert’s fears about his quality of life and the effect on his family could have been properly addressed with correct medical advice and full personal support," he said.

"We fear the documentary will obscure the broader issues of how allowing assisted suicide devalues human life and endangers the vulnerable," he added.

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