According to a new Gallup poll, American approval for euthanasia is on the rise. The report finds that approval of the practice has almost doubled since the late 1940s - climbing to a whopping approval rating of 72 percent.
The poll does distinguish between voluntary euthanasia, where someone other than a doctor administers lethal medication to a terminally ill patient, and physician-assisted suicide (PAS), a practice where a doctor grants patient access to medicine that can end their life. Voluntary euthanasia doesn’t necessarily have to involve a doctor at all.
More people approve of voluntary euthanasia than PAS. Overall, 72 percent support legalizing euthanasia. Sixty-five percent (65%) approve of legalizing physician assisted suicide.
But not every single demographic has a positive view of legalizing the practice.
When broken down into different demographics, there was only one group that consistently disapproved of both voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: those who attend church every week. Sixty percent (60%) disapprove of euthanasia and 58 percent disapprove of PAS, likely because Jews and Christians both believe that any form of suicide is a sin.
But even deviating the slightest from that group to those who attend church almost weekly or monthly shifts the results. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of those in that category approve of euthanasia and 58 percent approve of PAS.
Over the past few decades, support for both of these practices has varied. Support for euthanasia peaked in 1997 and 2005 with a 75 percent approval rating, but overall support has consistently risen.
Support for physician-assisted suicide peaked in 2001 and 2015 with a 68 percent approval rating. The trend in support of PAS has still increased, for the most part, over the past couple of decades.
Both of these practices have been seen as moderately controversial, but it seems pretty clear that most Americans believe in and support the right for terminally ill patients to take their own lives.