Seventy-three percent of U.S. adults believe euthanasia should be legal for terminally ill patients, according to a Gallup survey, and 67 percent said doctor-assisted suicide should be legal for terminally ill patients.
Both are near record highs and demonstrate a significant increase in support for these views since Gallup’s polling on these issues began.
Euthanasia is a doctor “end[ing] the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it.” Doctor-assisted suicide is “assist[ing] the patient to commit suicide if the patient requests it.”
Affirmation of euthanasia for terminally ill patients was at 35 percent in 1951, rising to an all-time high of 75 percent by the late 1990s and then rising and falling since then.
Support of doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill has ebbed and flowed – moving from 52 percent (1997) to a high of 68 percent (2001) before dropping to a low of 51 percent (2013), then rising back to 68 percent (2015) and remaining largely stable since.
Those believing doctor-assisted suicide is morally acceptable reached an all-time high (57 percent) in 2017, while those saying it is morally wrong dropped to an all-time low (37 percent, equaling 2015).
Gallup found that church attendance impacted how respondents answered.
Only 55 percent of weekly churchgoers support euthanasia for the terminally ill, compared to 66 percent of monthly churchgoers and 87 percent of those attending seldom or never.
“In the past year, death-with-dignity legislation has gone into effect in two states, California and Colorado, and legislation has been passed in the District of Columbia. Though the movement appears to have stalled at least temporarily with legislative roadblocks in Maine and Nevada, Americans’ support for the practice remains high,” Gallup noted. “Americans’ views on euthanasia have evolved, generally becoming more liberal, and could shift further as states continue to debate a suffering patient’s right to die.”
The full report is available here.