Gallup Poll on Assisted Suicide Shows How Language Affects Results

This is interesting, but not for the reasons proponents might claim. Gallup asked this question:

When a person has a disease that cannot be cured do you think that a doctor should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his family request it?

69% said yes, and 27% said no. Of course, it is clear that proponents didn’t think this out very well. First, it says nothing about pain or suffering, which is always waved as the bloody flag to scare people into supporting killing as an answer to human suffering. Moreover, since arthritis isn’t curable, diabetes isn’t curable, many disabilities aren’t curable, asymptomatic HIV isn’t curable, etc., this would open medicalized killing up to tens of millions of patients in the USA alone. I doubt whether majorities really want such a broad assisted suicide license.

Of more interest is this poll question which uses the term “suicide:”

When a person has a disease that cannot be cured and is living in severe pain, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed by law to assist the patient commit suicide if the patient requests it?

Even though the pollsters threw in the element of severe pain, which is not in the previous question, the yes vote plunges to 58%. The key word that changed the result, almost surely, is “suicide,” which is an accurate and descriptive term for what is being discussed. And this is why the pro PAS talking points insist that this accurate word never be used in discussing the issue. They prefer euphemisms because that is the only way they can sell the death agenda.

One final thought: These polls are actually less supportive of legalizing PAS than they used to be. And, if people’s attention were directed to their seeming support in both polling questions for legalizing assisted suicide for disabled and chronically ill people, I have no doubt that support would plunge. Moreover, other reputable polls show support for PAS under 50%, for example.

The best polls are elections, and with the exception of Oregon, every time this issue has come before voters, the legalization measures lost because people were forced to look more deeply at the issue than polls such as the Gallup questions require. When they did they rejected assisted suicide legalization.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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