Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Canadian Poll on "Euthanasia" Contested.

While a new poll by Angus Reid shows that a majority of Quebec and BC residents support "euthanasia" policies, the poll is contested by disability and "pro-life" groups who say that the general public does not properly address disability and end of life issues.

I post this article (best when contrasted with last week's Angus Reid poll of the US) because of a comment, bolded below, by the pollster. It seems, he says, that where the euthanasia debate is greatest - in the news, as in Quebec - people are more willing to support it. This is substantial in a number of ways: does more information regarding end of life care, palliative care, and aid in dying change opinions toward favorable?

Catch the comments if you want to hear more about how the general public articulates support for "euthanasia" laws.

From the Globe and Mail:

The online survey compiled the opinions of 1,003 Canadian adults, with Quebec and B.C. showing the highest support for euthanasia, respectively.

Nationally, 85 per cent of Canadian respondents believe legalizing euthanasia would allow an opportunity for suffering people to ease their pain, in addition to establishing clearer regulations for doctors with end-of-life decisions.

Further, two-thirds of Canadians agreed that legalizing euthanasia would not send the message that the lives of the sick or disabled are less valuable.

Jaideep Mukerji, public affairs vice president for Angus Reid, said the differences amongst the provinces showed interesting variations. “In Quebec, where there is a much stronger political debate surrounding euthanasia, it was interesting to note that the poll indicated that the provincial result was nearly 10 points higher than the national average,” he said.

Cheryl M. Eckstein is an anti-euthanasia activist and president of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Despite her status as a chronic pain patient, which went undiagnosed for months, Eckstein remains a staunch opponent to assisted suicide. She believes the latest poll revealed a lack of public understanding on the topic of euthanasia.

“There isn't a lot of information about what is euthanasia,” she said. “Some people don't really understand what it is. They think euthanasia is the same as pulling the plug.”

Regardless of public misconceptions, the poll established that 50 per cent of British Columbians agree there should be no penalty applied to a parent found guilty of assisting the death of a terminally ill child, whereas only a third of Ontarians and Albertans felt the same way. Currently in Canada, it is a crime to counsel or aid someone with suicide, punishable by a 14-year prison sentence.

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