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New YouGov opinion poll shows overwhelming public support for legalising assisted dying, 15/12/2008

Media statement

15th December

New YouGov opinion poll shows overwhelming public support for legalising assisted dying

Following the transmission of the ‘Right to Die’ documentary aired on Sky this week, and the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) decision not to prosecute Mr and Mrs James for accompanying their son abroad for an assisted death, The Sunday Times published a poll on the public’s attitudes to these issues.

The survey asked over 2000 members of the general public whether Sky TV were right to broadcast the film of Mr Ewert undergoing an assisted death in a clinic in Switzerland. 61% of those asked thought it was right to show the documentary against the 27% who thought Sky were wrong to show it.

85% of those questioned thought the DPP was right not to prosecute Mr and Mrs James for assisting in their son’s death by accompanying him abroad to die. 8% thought Mr and Mrs James should have been charged.

When questioned whether they would consider the option of an assisted death if faced with a terminal illness, travelling abroad if necessary, 61% of those asked would personally consider an assisted death, against 15% who would not.

Finally, 69% of those questioned felt that the law should be changed to allow people with an incurable disease to ask loved ones to assist in their death without fear of prosecution. 19% of those asked thought the law should remain as it is.

Other opinion polls have always shown high levels of support for a change in the law on assisted dying, and particularly high support for those suffering from a terminal illness. In 2007, the British Social Attitudes Survey found that 80% of the public want a change in the law to allow assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said the poll demonstrated that the law was out of step with public opinion.

“I don’t think there is any doubt about the appetite for change from the British public, the issue is about parliamentarians and whether they are really representing constituents.”


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying is the leading organisation in the

    UK that advocates assisted dying for terminally ill patients.

  • Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
  • Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the

    UK population support a change in the law on assisted dying.