We often hear that more than 60% of Americans favor assisted suicide. I have never believed it because the polls that count–elections–mostly show narrow disapproval of legalization (except Michigan where an assisted suicide legalization bill lost 71-29% in 1998, hardly narrow, and Oregon, which approved legalization in 1994, 51-49%).
This most recent public opinion poll (AP) indicates that Americans are closely divided on the issue. A non-whopping 48% supported assisted suicide and 44% opposed. What makes me even more cheered by this poll is that the media tends to write stories that are distinctly sympathetic to assisted suicide, and most major newspapers editorialize in its favor. And still, Americans are justifiably wary. I credit the disability rights movement for much of this, because they have effectively punctured the myth that only religious conservatives oppose euthanasia.
So, the debate rages on. And if we don’t tire, we can preserve ethics in American medicine.