Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 1, 2008
Canadians divided over euthanasia – poll
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
“A lot of health care workers aren’t aware of the advances in palliative care.”
- Gudrun Schultz
Within days of the poll release, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg put out an alert concerning the trial of a man who is accused of helping his uncle hang himself.
According to news reports, the uncle had polio, was confined to a wheelchair, had made previous suicide attempts and repeatedly asked for help in dying. The trial began Nov. 25 in Alma, in northeastern Quebec.
Schadenberg also raised concern that Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde is expected to re-introduce her assisted-suicide bill.
The Environics poll showed support for euthanasia is highest in Quebec at 49 per cent; while support for palliative care is lowest there at 36 per cent.
“There’s a serious concern because people don’t understand how euthanasia and assisted suicide affect the relationship with the physicians who then have the power to be involved in the taking of life,” Schadenberg said. “We’re not talking about suicide; we’re talking about somebody else taking their life.”
The poll shows that 51 per cent of older Canadians would choose palliative care, while 36 per cent would choose euthanasia.
Schultz said it is interesting that those closer to death are more likely to want palliative care.
Schadenberg pointed out that in jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal — Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon — “very few people choose euthanasia or an assisted death.”
“Just because people say they would choose it, when they are in that situation, very few people actually ask for it,” he said.
This is the first time that LifeCanada has included a euthanasia question in its annual poll on abortion.
The poll showed that those who support human life from conception are far more likely to support palliative care (59 per cent). Support for euthanasia is highest (50 per cent) among those who think legal protection for human life should begin at birth.
On abortion the poll shows that six out of 10 Canadians want some restrictions on abortion, results that have remained in the same range in similar polls over 40 years, Schultz said.
Thirty-three per cent of Canadians support leaving the unborn child with no legal protection until birth. Thirty-three per cent of women support protection from conception, while 24 per cent of men do. The poll showed 65 per cent support informed consent requirements; and only three in 10 support the present system of tax-funded abortions.
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