Poll: Voters Support Death-With-Dignity Option

Death-With-Dignity Crusader Brittany Maynard
Death-With-Dignity Crusader Brittany Maynard

Nearly seven in ten California voters (69%) support a bill the California Assembly is considering that “would allow a terminally ill adult who is mentally competent the option to request and receive aid-in-dying medication from a physician,” according to a bipartisan poll.

Just two in ten (20%) voters oppose the bill, called the End-of-Life Option Act (SB 128), and 11 percent are unsure, according to the live interviewer public opinion telephone survey of 601 likely Nov. 2016 election voters in California.

The poll conducted June 16-21 by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Probolsky Research is timely because the Assembly Health Committee has postponed a hearing on SB 128 scheduled for this Tuesday until July 7, so committee members could spend more time studying the bill.

[ Also Read: Was Brittany Maynard Right to End Her Life? ]

Passed by the Senate just 19 days ago on June 4, SB 128 would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take to shorten an unbearable dying process.

Notably, support for End of Life Option Act, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk, is significant among every voter subgroup, including:

  • Voters in the Bay Area (68%), Fresno (66%), Inland Empire (63%), Los Angeles (76%), Sacramento (60%), and San Diego (77%)
  • Catholics (60%), non-evangelical Protestants (65%) and evangelical Christians (57%)
  • Whites (69%), African-Americans (67%), Latinos (70%) and Asian-Pacific Islanders (69%)
  • Men (70%) and women (67%)
  • Younger voters (69% ages 18-54) and older voters (68% ages 55+)
  • Democrats (73%), Independents (80%) and Republicans (55%), particularly Republicans over the age of 55 (58%)

“The strong support for the End of Life Option Act in every demographic group among California voters continues to increase,” said Toni Broaddus, California Campaign Director for Compassion & Choices, which sponsored the poll.

“This poll sends a clear signal to assembly members in every district that their constituents overwhelmingly support this bill. It is my hope that legislators will listen and respond to California voters here and now, instead of waiting until the next election.”

The End of Life Option Act was inspired by California death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard and is closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion.

Four other states authorize the option of medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. Legislators have introduced medical aid-in-dying bills in the District of Columbia and at least 23 other states besides California.

Compassion & Choices is a nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life.

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Rakesh Raman