April 18, 1998 - Connecticut Voters Back Doctor Assisted Suicide 2-1, Quinnipiac College Poll Finds; But Few Want Any Help When It's Their Own Time To Go
Connecticut voters support more than 2 -1 a proposal allowing doctor assisted suicide, according to a Quinnipiac College Poll released today.

When half of the 1,014 voters surveyed (Split Sample A) was asked if they favor a proposition to "allow doctors to help a patient end his or her life," support is 67 - 30 percent.

When the other half (Split Sample B) was asked the same question, using the phrase, "allow doctors to help a patient commit suicide," the results were 67 - 27 percent.

The Quinnipiac College Poll used the split sample technique to assure that answers were not influenced by the use of the word "suicide."

The strongest support -- 90 percent -- is among those who never attend religious services, and the weakest support -- 48 percent -- is among those who attend religious services weekly. There is no measurable change in Samples A or B.

In Sample A, only 35 percent say they want doctor assisted suicide if they are terminally ill, with six months to live, while 51 percent say no and 14 percent are undecided. Sample B responses are statistically the same.

"Two thirds of Connecticut voters would support a law allowing doctor assisted suicide, similar to the proposition passed in Oregon in 1994. And that support is strong, with 50 percent of the electorate saying they strongly favor it," said Quinnipiac College Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "Support decreases with religiosity, which we measured by asking how often a person attends religious services.

"Support for doctor assisted suicide also drops significantly when people are asked whether they themselves would request it if they were terminally ill and had only six months to live.

"About a third of those, however, who said initially they would not ask for doctor assisted suicide changed their minds when the hypothetical scenario also included that the respondent was living in severe pain," Schwartz added.

Among voters who say they do not want doctor assisted suicide if they are terminally ill, 35 percent say they would change their mind if they were in severe pain. Results in both samples are identical.

If doctor assisted suicide were legal in Connecticut; 17 percent say most terminally ill people would want help ending their lives; 36 percent say some people would want help; 38 percent say only a few people would want help.

Among all Connecticut voters, 74 percent say they've had experience with terminal illness involving a close friend or family member.

From March 24 - 30, Quinnipiac College surveyed 1,014 Connecticut residents who say they are registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. The Quinnipiac College Poll conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a public service and for research.

For additional data -- www.quinnipiac.edu

Robert Bazell, NBC's chief science correspondent, will moderate a debate on assisted suicide between Dr. Bernie Siegel and attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Dr. Jack Kevorkian, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, April 20, at a National Institute for Community Health Education (NICHE) conference in the Quinnipiac College Athletic Center. The debate is free and open to the public.

"I think we have two exceptional experts on assisted suicide whose views will surely make for lively debate," said Joseph J. Woods, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Quinnipiac College. "This debate is especially timely here in Connecticut where Kevorkian recently assisted in the suicide of a 76-year-old Connecticut woman with Parkinson's disease."

Following the debate, Bazell, Fieger and Siegel will appear at a luncheon in Alumni Hall. Admission to the luncheon is $20. Bazell will give the keynote speech, "The Role of the Media in Disseminating Medical Information."

For more information on the debate and luncheon, please call 203-287-5326. NICHE is an institute, established by Quinnipiac College, that draws upon the unique community of health related organizations for the purpose of focusing national attention on health-related issues.

Quinnipiac College is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational institution located in Hamden, Connecticut. The college has approximately 230 full-time faculty and enrolls 3,500 full-time undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students in its Schools of Business, Health Sciences, Law and Liberal Arts. Quinnipiac College is rated No. 11 among all northern regional universities in U.S. News and World Report's 1998 edition of America's Best Colleges.

46a.(Split sample A) In 1994, people in Oregon voted on a proposition that would allow doctors to help a patient end his or her life if the patient is terminally ill with less than 6 months to live, and the patient requests it. Doctors would be allowed to prescribe a fatal dose of a drug for the patient if all of the following conditions were met: The patient requests it 3 times. The doctor informs the patient of all feasible alternatives. There is a second opinion from another doctor. There is a 15 day waiting period for the patient to change his or her mind. Would you favor or oppose such a law in Connecticut? Would you (favor/oppose) it strongly or somewhat?

                                Age........................


Tot 18-29 30-44 45-64 65+

Favor strongly 50% 50% 60% 44% 44% Favor smwht 17 21 16 18 16 Oppose smwht 7 4 5 9 6 Oppose strongly 23 21 16 27 29 DK/NA 4 3 3 3 5

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill

Favor strongly 33% 47% 57% 77% 52%

Favor smwht 16 16 20 12 15

Oppose smwht 8 14 7 1 7

Oppose strongly 38 18 13 10 23

DK/NA 4 6 4 - 3



46b.(Split Sample B) In 1994, people in Oregon voted on a proposition that would allow doctors to help a patient commit suicide if the patient is terminally ill with less than 6 months to live, and the patient requests it. Doctors would be allowed to prescribe a fatal dose of a drug for the patient if all of the following conditions were met: The patient requests it 3 times. The doctor informs the patient of all feasible alternatives. There is a second opinion from another doctor. There is a 15 day waiting period for the patient to change his or her mind. Would you favor or oppose such a law in Connecticut? Would you (favor/oppose) it strongly or somewhat?

                                Age............................
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   


Favor strongly 47% 43% 48% 52% 41% Favor smwht 20 29 23 16 20 Oppose smwht 6 3 8 7 5 Oppose strongly 21 20 17 22 28 DK/NA 5 6 4 4 6

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Favor strongly 29% 55% 51% 74% 49% Favor smwht 18 21 27 16 19 Oppose smwht 8 8 6 4 6 Oppose strongly 40 13 10 5 22 DK/NA 6 4 5 1 4

47a.(Split Sample A). If this became law in Connecticut, and you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had less than 6 months to live, do you think you would probably ask a doctor to help you end your life, or not?

                                Age.........................


Tot 18-29 30-44 45-64 65+

Yes 35% 37% 31% 38% 39%

No 51 54 55 44 55

DK/NA 14 9 14 18 6

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Yes 23% 31% 43% 51% 38% No 64 53 42 37 48 DK/NA 12 16 15 12 14



48a.(If no on 47A, Split Sample A) If this became law in Connecticut, and you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had less than 6 months to live and were living in severe pain, do you think you would probably ask a doctor to help you end your life, or not?

                          Age...............................
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   


Yes 35% 34% 43% 30% 26%

No 54 59 46 59 62

DK/NA 11 7 11 11 13

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill

Yes 22% 40% 37% 68% 33% No 67 46 51 29 57 DK/NA 11 14 12 3 10



47b.(Split Sample B) If this became law in Connecticut, and you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had less than 6 months to live, do you think you would probably ask a doctor to help you commit suicide, or not?

                                Age.........................   
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   
 
Yes                       35%     34%     31%     36%     38%  


No 48 54 56 42 43

DK/NA 17 11 13 22 19

Attend religious services Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Yes 25% 42% 39% 42% 33% No 65 42 40 32 53 DK/NA 9 17 21 26 14



48b.(If no on 47b, Split Sample B) If this became law in Connecticut, and you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had less than 6 months to live and were living in severe pain, do you think you would probably ask a doctor to help you commit suicide, or not?

                                Age.........................   
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   


Yes 35% 43% 35% 38% 27%

No 53 52 53 49 59

DK/NA 12 4 12 14 14

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Yes 14% 45% 54% 52% 33% No 73 52 33 32 57 DK/NA 13 3 13 16 10



49a.(Split Sample A). If this became the law in Connecticut, how many people who were terminally ill with less than 6 months to live do you think would ask a doctor to help them end their lives? Most, some or only a few?

                                Age.........................   
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   


Most 17% 26% 16% 17% 12% Some 36 44 37 33 35 Only a few 38 26 39 42 38 DK/NA 9 4 8 8 16

Attend religious services.... Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Most 13% 20% 20% 18% 16% Some 30 41 38 41 37 Only a few 44 33 36 31 38 DK/NA 13 6 5 10 10



49b. (Split Sample B) If this became the law in Connecticut, how many people who were terminally ill with less than 6 months to live do you think would ask a doctor to help them commit suicide? Most, some or only a few?

                                Age.........................   
                                                               
                          Tot   18-29   30-44   45-64    65+   


Most 14% 26% 16% 11% 13%

Some 38 46 41 40 27

Only a few 39 29 36 42 43

DK/NA 9 - 6 7 18

Attend religious services........Know someone Who was Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Terminally ill Most 12% 15% 14% 20% 15% Some 33 34 45 42 39 Only a few 39 47 37 36 38 DK/NA 16 4 5 3 8



50. Have you had any personal experience with terminal illness involving a close friend or family member?

                                Age.........................   


Tot 18-29 30-44 45-64 65+

Yes 74% 60% 77% 77% 71%

No 26 40 23 23 29

DK/NA - - - - -

Attend religious services

Weekly Monthly Yearly Never

Yes 74% 73% 74% 75% No 26 27 26 25 DK/NA - - - -