Poll -- January 2002
Interactive Survey Finds 2-to-1 Majorities Continue to Support Rights to Both
Euthanasia and Doctor-Assisted Suicide
majority (when asked) also believes that Attorney General Ashcroft is wrong
to oppose Oregon proposition allowing physician- assisted suicide
Rochester, NY, January 9, 2002 By approximately two-to-one, most adults continue
to favor the right to euthanasia and physician- assisted suicide. When read
a brief description of the Oregon proposition, allowing physician-assisted
suicide for patients who are thought to have less than six months to live,
a 61% to 34% majority said that they would favor such a law in their state.
Unsurprisingly most people say (by 58% to 35%), when told about it, that Attorney
General Ashcroft was wrong to move to overrule the Oregon proposition.
are some of the findings of the latest issue of The Harris Poll conducted
by Harris InteractiveSM via telephone with a nationwide sample of 1,011 adults
between December 14 19, 2001. The key findings are:
65% to 29%, a substantial majority thinks "the law should allow doctors
to comply with the wishes of a dying patient in severe distress who asks
to have his or her life ended." Harris Interactive has asked this question
since 1982, when a 53% to 34% majority supported it. Support peaked, at
73% to 24%, in 1993 and has declined somewhat since then to the current
65% to 29% majority.
63% to 32% majority disagrees with the 1997 Supreme Court ruling that individuals
do not have a constitutional right to doctor- assisted suicide. These numbers
are virtually identical to replies given in 1997 (65% to 32%).
61% to 34% majority (when read a detailed description of it) favors the
Oregon proposition that would allow doctor-assisted suicide for patients
with six months to live, if all three of the following conditions were met:
a) The patient requests it three times.
b) There is a second physician s opinion.
c) There is a 15-day waiting period for the patient to change his or
It is worth noting that the 58% to 35% majority which believes that the Attorney
General is wrong to oppose this proposition is slightly smaller than the 61%
to 34% majority which favors the Oregon proposition. This may reflect some
sympathy for the Attorney General who has been enjoying positive ratings recently,
along with other senior members of the Cabinet who have been visible in fighting
the "war on terrorism."
findings do not mean that most people have heard about, or have opinions about,
the Oregon proposition or the Attorney General's actions.
matter which questions are asked, there is a strong, approximately two-to-one,
majority in favor of an individual's right to euthanasia and physician-assisted
suicide where terminally ill patients clearly want this to happen. Whether
the opposition of many conservatives, Republicans, and the Catholic Church,
among others, can reverse this position is unclear. In the short and medium
term however it is seems likely that the majority support for this position
found in this poll will continue.
Taylor is the chairman of The Harris PollÂ¨, Harris Interactive.
the complete poll and tables for this survey at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=278
This issue of The Harris PollÂ¨ was conducted by telephone within the United
States between December 14 19, 2001 among a nationwide cross section of 1,011
adults. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults and number
of voice/telephone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to
align them with their actual proportions in the population.
In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent
certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3
percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had
been polled with complete accuracy.
statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council
on Public Polls.
Interactive (Nasdaq: HPOL) is a worldwide market research and consulting firm,
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