Most back allowing assisted suicide for the terminally ill

November 07, 2014, 1:47 PM GMT+0

Most people support allowing assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill, but not for people who are dealing with severe pain or disability

On November 1st a 29-year-old Californian woman took her own life in Oregon after consuming a deadly cocktail of barbituates that had been prescribed by a doctor. The woman, Brittany Murphy, was diagnosed with a terminal, inoperable brain tumor in January this year and in the following months became a campaigner to change California's laws which currently prohibit physician-assisted suicide.

YouGov's research shows that most Americans (58%) agree with her that terminally ill people with a short life expectancy should be allowed to commit suicide with the help of a physician. Only 23% disagree with allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people. When it comes to assisted suicide for people who are not terminally ill but who are coping with severe disability or pain, Americans narrowly oppose (37%) rather than support (35%) legalizing assisted suicide.

Black Americans (26% to 40%) are the only group that tends to be against assisted suicide for the terminally ill, while opposition to assisted suicide among Republicans is the second highest at 29%.

When people are asked how they would react if a terminally ill relative wanted to commit suicide, however, many people (38%) say that they would neither help nor prevent a family member to commit suicide. 20% say that they would help their relative, while 19% say that they would try to prevent it. 23% aren't sure how they would behave in this situation.

Full poll results can be found here.