ASSISTED DYING: PROFESSIONAL AND PUBLIC OPINION
In 2015, only 18% of MPs voted in favour of assisted dying reform. In the years since, popular support for a change in the law has dramatically changed.
- 88% of the public favour assisted dying for people who are suffering intolerably but not close to death
- 88% of the public favour assisted dying for people who have six or fewer months left to live
- 88% of the public would support assisted dying reform for people suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s.
In the UK, public opinion favouring assisted dying reform for the intolerably suffering has dramatically shifted. In 2014 according to YouGov only 42% of the public supported assisted dying for people who are intolerably suffering, but not close to death. Conversely, a NatCen survey, published in 2019, found that up to 88% of the public favoured changing the law for the intolerably suffering.
- 50% of doctors personally support changing the law on assisted dying
- 59% of doctors also believe, if the law were to change, people with intolerable and incurable suffering should be eligible for an assisted death. A minority of doctors (24%) think assisted dying should be restricted to people with six months left to live.
Although a minority of medics conscientiously object to assisted dying reform, the vast majority want a law that would allow their patients to die with dignity.
This is reflected in the neutral positions of almost every high profile medical organisation, including:
- The Royal College of Physicians
- The Royal Society of Medicine
- The Royal College of Nursing
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists.
In 2020, in a survey of more than 29,000 doctors, the British Medical Association found that 40% of doctors also think the BMA should actively support assisted dying reform, 21% think the BMA should adopt a neutral stance, and only 33% think the BMA should remain opposed to assisted dying.
OPINION FROM DISABLED COMMUNITIES
- 88% of people who identify as disabled support assisted dying reform for people who are intolerably suffering
- 89% of people who identify as disabled support assisted dying reform for people suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s.
In 2013, research conducted by the Picker Institute Europe, on behalf of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, found that 69% of people with MND think ‘deciding when the time is right to die’ is what it means to have control at the end of life, and 45% of people suffering from MND would want the option to consider assisted dying if the law were changed.
In 2020, an independent study of disability rights groups found that the vast majority of organisations advocating on behalf of disabled people are neutral or have no stance on assisted dying reform, including:
- The Motor Neurone Disease Association
- Parkinson’s UK
- The Alzheimer’s Society
- The Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Only 5 out of 140 UK based organisations oppose changing the law.
OPINION FROM RELIGIOUS AND NON-RELIGIOUS GROUPS
As with others in society, the vast majority of people who are religious support a change in the law that would respect the choices of both those who are incurably suffering or terminally ill.
- 71% of religious people support assisted dying reform
- 92% of the non-religious support assisted dying reform.