Editor’s Note: In this post, the findings of a Gallup poll from 2013 are characterized as new. The most recent Gallup poll on assisted suicide, from May 2018, shows that public support for assisted suicide has risen again, even when the wording of the question posed to respondents includes the phrase “commit suicide.”
Good news from Gallup. Support for assisted suicide is down.
Moreover, the poll shows why pro–assisted-suicide advocates rely so heavily on gooey euphemisms, such as “aid in dying” or “death with dignity.” When people understand the precise act proposed, support for legalization plummets.
From the Gallup press release:
PRINCETON, NJ — In the same month that Vermont became the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, a May 2-7 Gallup survey finds 70% of Americans in favor of allowing doctors to hasten a terminally ill patient’s death when the matter is described as allowing doctors to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.” At the same time, far fewer — 51% — support it when the process is described as doctors helping a patient “commit suicide.”
Forty-five percent oppose. Note that using vague and non-descriptive language yields a different result.
Gallup’s question with the softer description of euthanasia — calling it “ending a patient’s life by some painless means” — also specifies that both the patient and his or her family requested it. The “suicide” version says the patient requests assistance from a doctor, without referencing other family members.
It is worth noting here that no law or proposal requires family involvement or consent, much less family request. Moreover, “ending a life” could be construed as removing unwanted intensive-care medical interventions — hooked up to tubes, in the vernacular. In other words, the wording of that for of the question is stacked to almost guarantee a more positive response.
Gallup says support for assisted suicide is now falling:
Gallup’s full trend on the “suicide” version of the question extends back to 1996. This shows that current support — with 51% of Americans in favor and 45% opposed — is similar to that of the previous three years, and is nearly identical to attitudes in 1996. In the interim, support steadily rose to 68% by 2001 and remained above 60% through 2004, after which it started to falter.
For all those who have been telling me since 1993 that assisted suicide is unstoppable, I reply: No it isn’t. And we who believe that the proper and loving response to every suicidal desire, whatever the reason, is empathetic prevention, will never give up the struggle.