Nearly 70 Percent Of Americans Support Euthanasia, But Opinions Vary By Religiosity

06/19/2014 10:40 am ET | Updated Jun 19, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A strong majority of Americans support euthanasia and have done so for the past 20 years. Nearly 70% are in favor of giving physicians the ability to legally "end [a] patient's life by some painless means," but opinions vary dramatically by religiosity and by the wording of the question, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Pew Research's Religion & Public Life Project gathered summaries from 16 major American religious groups in 2013 outlining their faiths' stance on euthanasia. Almost all of the 16 expressed either strong opposition or serious concern over "prematurely ending a person’s life," with the exceptions being the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

Gallup also found that only 48% of Americans who attend weekly religious services support euthanasia, compared to 82% of those who attend religious services less than once a month.

General support decreased from 69% to 58% when Gallup inquired about support for "doctor-assisted suicide." Whether a case of wording or a genuinely subtle distinction between doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, the issue sparked debate in 2013 when a 44-year-old transgender man in Brussels deliberately ended his life with the help of a physician. Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, but in Nathan Verhelst's case some may wonder whether emotional pain constitutes as grounds for euthanasia, as the pain of the elderly or dying might.

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