57% of Californians support an assisted-suicide bill

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 3, 2006

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A February Field Poll of 500 Californians found 57% support a bill pending in the state Legislature that, if passed, would closely mimic Oregon's controversial Death With Dignity Act; 34% of respondents said they opposed the bill, which would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions for life-ending drug doses from physicians.

The Field Poll, operated by the independent, nonpartisan Field Research Corp., has asked Californians about physician-assisted suicide since 1979. Majority support for the option has been unwavering. In 1979, 64% of Californians polled supported the option for terminally ill patients, with that figure jumping to 75% in 1999 before settling at 70% in this year's poll.

Pollsters speculated that support for legislation might be smaller than support for the concept of physician-assisted suicide because of respondents' fear a specific bill might not have sufficient safeguards to prevent euthanasia.

An Oregon-like bill was proposed in California 2005 but held up partly because of concerns the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Gonzales v. Oregon would invalidate it. Now that the nation's top court has upheld the Oregon law, supporters are more optimistic their bill will make progress in the Democrat-controlled Assembly. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the matter.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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