Dear lawmakers: death with dignity has a 70% approval rating
by David Atkins
We progressives often point out that the public is with us on nearly every single issue. Often the public is way out in front of conventional wisdom. That's certainly the case with the right to choose one's own exit when confronted with a terminal illness:
Most Americans continue to support euthanasia when asked whether they believe physicians should be able to legally "end [a] patient's life by some painless means." Strong majorities have supported this for more than 20 years.It's time to end the taboos over this question and give people the freedom and peace of mind to know that they can go out on their terms rather than suffer needless, debilitating pain at the hands of a horrible disease. People shouldn't have to travel to Oregon to give themselves and their loved ones the care and respect they deserve.
Although these are largely private family matters, controversy about euthanasia and other end-of-life situations has often become public -- most recently, regarding the death of iconic radio host Casey Kasem. His children and his wife fought in court over what to do in the final stages of Kasem's battle with Lewy body disease, a form of dementia. Ultimately, a judge granted his daughter the authority to have doctors remove his infusions of water, food, and medicine.
These data are from Gallup's May 8-11 Values and Beliefs poll, conducted before Kasem's death. Gallup began asking this question about euthanasia in 1947. At that time, Americans were about half as likely (37%) to support euthanasia as they are today. Support had grown by 1990, and since then, a large majority of Americans have backed euthanasia.
Lawmakers, please take note. People are suffering. Caregivers are putting themselves at risk. End the superstitious madness.