7 out of 10 Americans Support Euthanasia

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | June 20, 2014 | 9:47 AM EDT

When Americans are asked whether they believe physicians should be able to legally "end [a] patient's life by some painless means," 7 out of 10 (69%) say yes - although only 58% say they support a doctor assisting "the patient to commit suicide," according to a new Gallup poll.

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The variation between the numbers of Americans who support doctors ending "a patient's life by some painless means" which is currently 69% vs. assisting the "patient to commit suicide" (58%) implies that some may not realize both questions ask their support for the same action.

There is still a stigma associated with suicide in the U.S.; Gallup found in a May 2014 poll that only 19% of Americans believe suicide is "morally acceptable."

Strong majorities of the U.S. population have supported euthanasia for over 20 years, but the percentage of support is strongly linked to Americans' church attendance. 48% of Americans who attend church weekly support a doctor "ending a patient's life by some painless means;" whereas 74% of near-weekly/monthly attendees support it. The idea finds strongest support (82%) among those who attend church less often.

Since 1990, the majority of Americans have supported euthanasia.

When Gallup began collecting data on this question in 1947, only 37% supported doctor's ending a patient's life.