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Changes in America’s public opinion on legalizing Euthanasia?

According to a recent Angus Reid poll the proportion of supporters for legal euthanasia (now 42%) has dropped by three points, while the proportion of opponents (now 36%) has increased by 4 points, since august 2009. Still, there is no clear consensus on whether euthanasia should be legalized in the United States. Read the complete poll, or the article elaborating on the results.

Derek Humphry, ERGO’s List Manager comments: Using the word ‘euthanasia’ is in my opinion a poor way to test public. If the question was about supporting or otherwise ‘physician-assisted suicide for the dying’ or ‘legal medical assisted death’ then there would likely be a more accurate poll.  

In reaction to that comment I wrote the following:
In his comment on the Angus Reid Public Opinion about “euthanasia” (list vol 16, issue 29, message 2) the list manager hits the nail on its head: the need to define narrowly what you mean when using the word ‘euthanasia’ is enormous. Even in the Netherlands, where it is tolerated since mid-eighties and legalized since 2002, some people (and especially those that oppose!) suggest that terminating life WITHOUT request is also included in the term euthanasia. Unfortunately a worldwide agreement on the exact definition, and using that one in all communications, seems practically impossible for different reasons. At the recent RtD-Europe meeting in Frankfurt, Ruud Lequin (NL, in cooperation with WFRtDS and RtD-Europe) put up a discussion about a scheme with suggestions to design different definitions and their classification. He is still working on a further draft which will be presented during the Melbourne WF Conference. The only suggestion to make now is – when and if you are involved in a poll – to either define exactly the concepts you use, or go for the more neutral (legal) (medical) aid in/assisted dying.
Rob Jonquière, WFRtDS Communications Director

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