Americans of All Ages Divided Over Doctor-Assisted Suicide Laws

In light of rising discussion about assisted dying legislation in the United States, Pew points to a 2013 poll that showed overwhelming support for allowing patients to die, but far less support for doctor-assisted suicide.

[T]wo-thirds of Americans say there are circumstances in which a patient should be allowed to die, as opposed to doctors and nurses always doing everything possible to save the life of a patient. But U.S. adults are more divided about laws that allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, with 47% in favor of such laws and 49% opposed. Views on doctor-assisted suicide are little changed since 2005.

By religious demographic, the unaffiliated lead the way in supporting assisted-dying, with 66% in favor. White mainline Protestants and Catholics follow, with 61% and 55% in support, respectively. Opposition is centered on black Protestants (72% oppose), white evangelical Protestants (67% oppose), and hispanic Catholics (63% oppose).

Surprisingly, the youngest group measured, 18-29 year olds, disapprove of assisted dying (54% oppose) nearly as much as the oldest group, those 65 years and older (56% oppose). Relatedly, 18-29 year olds also report having given end of life issues the least amount of thought, with 41% having given “no thought at all” or “not very much thought” and only 25% having given them a “great deal of thought.”

These numbers are somewhat dispiriting in light of last month’s poll showing that 84% of Canadians favor legalized assisted dying in their country.

Pew’s full review can be viewed here.