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It’s official, Australians support euthanasia

As debate over assisted euthanasia continues across the country, surveys show the majority of Australians are in support of assisted dying.

A Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey conducted earlier this month concluded that 87 per cent of Australians were in favour of “letting patients die when they are hopelessly ill and experiencing unrelievable suffering with no chance of recovery” – an increase of 18 per cent since 1996.

This was compared to 10 per cent who believed that doctors should “try to keep patients alive”, and 3 per cent who remained undecided.

At least 85 per cent of Australians said they were in favour of allowing a doctor to “give a lethal dose when a patient is hopelessly ill with no chance of recovery and asks for a lethal dose,” while 15 per cent said this should not be legal.

The survey included results from 1,386 Australians over 18 years of age.

When the survey was first conducted in 1946 it recorded a divided result, as 42 per cent of respondents said a terminally ill patient should be allowed to die, 41 per cent said doctors should keep the patient alive and 17 per cent were undecided.

This year’s survey recorded the highest support for assisted dying among supporters of all political parties.

Support was almost identical among men and women of all ages, with those over the age of 65 most likely to back euthanasia (90 per cent).

In all Australian states at least 80 per cent were in favour, with the figure highest in Tasmania at 92 per cent.

Roy Morgan Research chief executive Michele Levine said Australians had demonstrated overwhelming support for euthanasia legislation recently passed in Victoria.

“Although the question of euthanasia has always provoked a great deal of debate, the views of the Australian public has decisively moved in favour of the action over the last two decades,” she said.

“From the first surveys in the 1940s, 50s and 60s there was a consistent increase in support, then between 1987 and 1996 support for doctors allowing hopelessly ill patients to die barely changed (67% in April 1987 cf. 69% in May 1996), while support for allowing doctors to administer a lethal dose actually dropped over the nine years to May 1996 (75% in April 1987 cf. 74% in May 1996).

“Today’s results show that, although the Victorian euthanasia legislation is the first time an Australian State has passed legislation allowing euthanasia, the State Government is unlikely to suffer any political fallout from the move.”

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