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Brittany Maynard Story Spikes Strong Support for Death-With-Dignity Movement, New Harris Poll Finds

By Sean Crowley

Already strong national public support for death-with-dignity legislation has grown even stronger in the days since the Nov. 1 death of 29-year-old brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll has found.

Below are excerpts of today’s Forbes story about the poll.

“New report findings indicate a surge of public support for giving terminally ill patients greater control of their end-of-life care.

“According to the results of a recent online survey conducted by HealthDay and Harris Poll, 74 percent of American adults believe terminally ill patients who are suffering from severe pain should have the right to choose to end their own lives. Poll results revealed that only 14 percent of participants oppose this view …

“On the topic of end-of-life care laws, 66 percent of respondents said it should be legal for doctors to comply with the wishes of a terminally ill patient who is in ‘severe distress’ and wants to end life. Only 15 percent were opposed …

“Survey respondents included 2,276 American adults (aged 18 and over). Participants were selected from a pool of individuals who had agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The survey was conducted between November 12 and 26 — just a couple of weeks after Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill 29-year-old woman who was made famous by the overwhelming support of right-to-die advocates — followed through with her decision to end her life on November 1 under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act …

“A Gallup poll conducted earlier in the year revealed that nearly 70 percent of Americans believe physicians should be able to ‘legally end a patient’s life by some painless means.’”

“Public opinion on these issues seems to be far ahead of political leadership and legislative actions,’” Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, told Physicians News.

You can read the entire Forbes story about the HealthDay/Harris Poll by clicking here.