Support for Physician-Assisted Suicide

Only a small majority of Americans support physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. However, support could grow in future years since younger generations support the idea more strongly, according to a new poll.

Only a small majority of Americans support physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. However, support could grow in future years since it varies by age, according to a poll of Americans.

The NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll showed similar results from a year ago when the controversial question was put to Americans. The results revealed that 55% of respondents favor physician-supported suicide for patients with less than six months to live and 45% were opposed.

However, among those who do not believe in physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, 23% believe a physician should be allowed to provide the patient or family members with the means to end the patient’s life they request it.

Broken down by age, it is clear that the younger generations are more strongly in favor of the idea.

Among people younger than 35, 59% said it should be legal for doctors to prescribe drugs to help terminally ill patients end their lives. However, people 65 and older more strongly oppose being able to do so, 56% to 44%.

Another predictor for how respondents would feel about the idea was income. People in households making at least $100,000 are more likely to support it, as were people with a college education.

However, higher-income households are much less likely to believe that the patient or family members should be provided the means to end the patient’s life compared to lower-income households. Only 16.5% of those making at least $100,000 support the idea while 28% of those making less than $25,000 support it.

If the patient is not terminally ill, but still in severe pain or has a severe disability, then support for physician-assisted suicide drops sharply to only 29%.

See the full report here