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Assisted suicide 'backed' by two-thirds of people

8th November 2012

Assisted suicide is supported by up to two thirds of people, according to research carried out by a Welsh university.

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The international research conducted by Bangor University studied the views of over 62,000 people and concluded that support was around the same among people with terminal illnesses as for the general public.

They said their findings contrasted with a recent review claiming doctors consistently opposed euthanasia.

A range of factors were highlighted in favour of assisted death, including loss of dignity, loneliness and being a burden, which was seen as being just as significant as the pain being suffered in motivating people to consider taking such action.

Unbearable suffering was the main reason given for considering assisted death – which is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg and in the American states of Oregon, Washington and Montana.

From looking at international literature published about assisted dying, combined with the views of ordinary people, the Bangor team suggest there were no differences in attitudes in a number of countries, irrespective of whether assisted dying was permitted by law or not.

Their report stated: “It remains to understand the discrepancy between the perspectives of doctors and their patients.”

Professor Clare Wilkinson of the North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research said the work highlighted the collective views of many people, including those from Britain.

“The medical profession needs to recognise and have respect for this majority view even if we don’t agree with it,” she added.

The British Medical Association is opposed to assisted dying.

 

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