09/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How Americans Cope With End Of Life Decisions: Study

The national debate over health care reform has focused new attention on the decisions people make about medical care at the end stages of life.

Public opinion polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support an individual's right to decide whether he or she wants to be kept alive through medical treatment. In a 2005 Pew Research Center survey, 84% said they approved of laws which say medical treatment that is keeping a terminally ill patient alive can be stopped if that is what the patient desires. In addition, 70% said there are some circumstances when a patient should be allowed to die, while 22% said doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save the life of a patient.

Read more on Pew Social & Demographic Trends