Californians overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying for terminally ill people, according to a new poll released today by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at UC Berkeley.
Strong majorities in both major political parties and among independent voters back the idea, as do people in most other demographic categories. Support is noticeably lower only among African Americans, but a narrow majority is in favor.
The online survey polled 1,097 Californians from Aug. 11-26. People were asked about pending legislation to allow terminally ill people to voluntarily end their own lives by taking drugs prescribed by a physician.
A large majority (76 percent) supported that idea, including 82 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents and 67 percent of Republicans.
“Although many political issues reflect strong partisan differences, physician-assisted suicide clearly draws strong support from Californians across the political spectrum,” said IGS director Jack Citrin.
Support was at least 75 percent among whites, Latinos and Asian Americans, but only 52.3 percent among African Americans. When an earlier version of the same proposal failed in the Legislature earlier this year, many commentators cited the opposition of Latino legislators from Southern California, but less public discussion focused on the views of the African American community.
“Although most African American respondents supported physician-assisted suicide, there is a clear difference in the data between African Americans and other ethnic groups,” Citrin said.
Support levels of at least 69 percent were registered across all other demographic categories — gender, education, income and age. Among age groups, support was weakest among 18- to 19-year-olds (70 percent) and stronger among older groups: 86 percent among those in their 40s, 79 percent among those in their 50s, and 81 percent among those over 65.
The poll was conducted for IGS by Survey Sampling International. The full data can be viewed on the IGS website.