The latest Pew Research Center survey found that the majority of Americans oppose assisted suicide. The survey also questioned Americans on their attitudes towards medical treatment decisions and found that a growing number of Americans want medical treatment, even when their prognosis is poor.
The Pew Research survey was conducted by telephone from March 21 to April 8, 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 1994 adults with a 2.9% margin of error.
They survey asked if they: approve or disapprove of laws that allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. 49% stated that they disapproved while 47% stated that they approved.
Pew research stated that the response was very similar to its 2005 survey results and the results were nearly identical to a Gallup poll in March 2013 that found that 49% stated that assisted suicide was morally wrong while 45% stated that it was morally acceptable.
When further analysis was done on who supported or opposed assisted suicide, good news was found. The survey found that:
“A majority of white mainline Protestants (61%) and about half of white Catholics (55%) approve of laws that allow physician-assisted suicide, as do two-thirds of religiously unaffiliated adults. However, by a margin of about two-to-one or more, black Protestants, white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Catholics disapprove of laws that allow doctor-assisted suicide.”
Since the people who strongly oppose assisted suicide represent a growing demographic in the United States, we can predict that opposition to assisted suicide will strengthen.
On the question of receiving medical treatment, even when the prognosis may be poor, the survey indicated that 31 percent, said doctors should always do everything possible to save a patient’s life, which is up from 15 percent in 1990.
• 35% wanted everything possible done when they had no hope of improvement and were suffering a great deal of pain;• 37% wanted everything possible done when they were totally dependent on the care of others; and• 46% wanted everything possible done when they found it hard to function in day to day activities.
It is possible that Americans are responding to the Obama care debate by wanting to receive medical treatment, even when the benefit of the treatment may be in doubt. These people fear that they will be denied medical treatment based on cost containment or futile care policies.
The survey also asked whether people about a “moral right to suicide” in certain circumstances.
Suicide is not the same as assisted suicide. Suicide is an act one does to oneself whereas assisted suicide involves the direct and intentional involvement of another person.
The poll found that Americans thought suicide was morally right: 62% of the time when a person was suffering great pain with no hope of improvement; 56% of the time when a person had an incurable disease; 38% of the time when living became a burden; and 32% of the time when the person was an extreme burden on the family.
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Americans continue to be concerned about the equality of each person. They recognize that legalizing assisted suicide opens the door to significant possibilities of abuse and that the taking of human life must be treated with the upper most concern.
Americans have been inundated with propaganda from groups that support assisted suicide. The fact that the majority of Americans remain opposed to assisted suicide speaks to the innate belief in human exceptionalism.