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Public Opinion in the UK about Euthanasia

Thursday, August 20, 1970

From the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of England and Wales


Media polls regularly record huge majorities of people who support legalising voluntary euthanasia for the incurably ill. In October 1997, out of nearly 3,000 people who took part in a Sun newspaper telephone opinion poll, an amazing 97% said terminally ill people should have the right to die with dignity. The graph below shows the results of large scale statistical surveys on the topic carried out for us by NOP (National Opinion Polls).

We asked: "Some people say that the law should allow adults to receive medical help to an immediate peaceful death if they suffer from an incurable physical illness that is intolerable to them, provided they have previously requested such help in writing. Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with this?"


It is clear that a large majority agree, and this number is growing every year. The 1993 poll showed that sex, age, region or economic class made little difference to people's views on this subject. And, the majority of people from all religious groups were in favour of voluntary euthanasia.

In 1996, Britain's largest social research institute carried out an independent survey into the social attitudes of British people. The survey showed that 82% of British people agree with doctors helping patients to die if they have a disease which cannot be cured. They also support making such help legal.



It's no accident

Those people who do not agree with their findings often criticise the wording of these polls. But, not even people who are against assisted dying can produce opinion poll results which are against voluntary euthanasia. In 1987, the British Section of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life, who do not agree with voluntary euthanasia because of their religious beliefs, carried out a MORI poll. Overall, 72% of those surveyed said that voluntary euthanasia should be made legal.



Around the world

These figures are also mirrored in other countries. In the USA support for legalising voluntary euthanasia, as shown by Gallup poll results, has grown from 37% in 1947 to 61% in 1999. The Australian polls also back these results, with public support for voluntary euthanasia rising from 47% in 1962, to 78% in 1995. All around the world, voluntary euthanasia is supported by the majority of people.

NOTE: For those of you who are researching the subject of euthanasia in some detail, our site carries an in-depth listing of opinion surveys from the UK and around the world. Full academic references are given, together with a brief summary of the findings. Where possible, we've also included links to the research, if it can be found on the internet.

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