Human Exceptionalism

Much Ado About Very Little

The media is in a mini-frenzy because the Field Poll in California reported that support for physician-assisted suicide is running at about 70%. This seems an enormous margin. But legalization usually polls well so long as people are being asked the question in the abstract. However, history shows that when voters are forced to contemplate real policy proposals and the potential reality of assisted suicide becoming legal, support for PAS always plummets like a crowbar thrown off a bridge.

Examples: In 1991, support for an initiative to legalize PAS/euthanasia began with support above 70%. The measure was defeated 54-46% Again, in 1992, Californians supported a legalization initiative above 70%. It too lost by 54-46%. In 1994, support in Oregon was above 70%. The assisted suicide measure won, but by a bare 51-49%. In 1998, Michigan had a legalization initiative that began with a high 60% support. It lost by a whopping 71-29%. Finally, in Maine in 2000, support for legalization again ran above 70%. The measure ended up losing by 51-49%.

So the moral of the story? The more people learn about assisted suicide and euthanasia, the less they like it.

Post Script: As soon as states voters turn down legalization measures, support for assisted suicide usually rises back above 60% as if the election never happened. Go figure.

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