Almost every time I am interviewed about the legalization of assisted suicide, reporters bring up the point that majorities supposedly support legalizing doctors providing people with the means to kill themselves. My response to such questions is that it depends on the poll. Some polls show that support for legalizing physician-assisted suicide does not reach 50 percent, although you can count on the media not publicizing those findings. Also, I point out that almost all real polls that have been held on the issue–elections–show that majorities oppose legalizing assisted suicide (the exception being with the Oregon).
This Pew Poll illustrates my point. Only 46% supported legalizing physician-assisted suicide, while 45% oppose. In other words, if the once seemingly unstoppable juggernaut is moribund, perhaps even losing support.
This seems right to me based on my sense of the “feel” of the environment based on almost 13 years of intense involvement with the issue. Moreover, I detect no real intensity to legalize assisted suicide outside a small cadre of committed advocates and their few legislative allies. This is why California’s legalization legislation went nowhere last year and we news reports state that Vermont legislators have said that the assisted suicide bill pending there is not going anywhere.
This is good news, but the watchword of the day must continue to be vigilance. Euthanasia backers may be few, but they are intensely committed to their cause. Look for them to continue to prod and probe looking for an exploitable wink link to move their agenda forward.