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SUPREME COURT RULINGS

Americans' Views on Assisted Suicide

June 27, 1997

Do you think a person has the right to end his or her own life if this person has an incurable disease?

YES

1977: 59%

1997: 34%

*

NO

1977: 38%

1997: 34%

When a person has a disease that cannot be cured, do you think doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient's life by some painless means if the patient and his family request it?; Do you think a person has the right to end his or her own life if this person is tired of living and ready to die?

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 28, 1997 Home Edition Part A Page 22 Metro Desk 3 inches; 93 words Type of Material: Correction
This graphic on right-to-die poll findings that ran with Supreme Court coverage in Friday's editions contained errors in the data. The corrected version appears below.
Do you think a person has the right to end his or her own life if this person has an incurable disease?
YES
1977: 38%
1996: 61%
NO
1977: 59%
1996: 34%
A second chart contained data that ran through 1996, not 1997 as indicated in the labels. And the percentage of those who thought doctors should be allowed to end a life if patients request it should have read 68%, not 69%, for 1996.
Source: National Opinion Research Center, General Social Surveys, 1972-1996; The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

Doctors should be allowed to end life if patient requests it.

1977: 60%

1997: 69%

*

A person has the right to end life if tired of living and ready to die.

1977: 13%

1997: 18%

Percent responding "yes" to both questions

"Our decisions lead us to conclude that the asserted 'right' to assistance in committing suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the due-process clause."

Chief Justice William H Rehnquist, whose wife died in 1991 after a long battle with ovarian cancer, writing the main decision.

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