Older people more likely than younger people to think that assisted suicide law would devalue the lives of the elderly or disabled, reveals poll.
British people are more likely to think that elderly or disabled people would feel that their lives were less valued if assisted suicide were made available on the National Health Service than they are to think that their lives would be more valued, a new opinion poll has found.
The Assisted Suicide Survey, conducted by ComRes on behalf of ALERT, the anti-euthanasia pressure group, asked 1,000 members of the public by telephone between March 9 and March 11 the following question: “If assisted suicide were made available on the NHS, do you think that this would make elderly or disabled people feel that their lives were less or more valued?”
A total of 37 per cent of those polled answered “less valued” compared to 33 per cent who answered “more valued”.
Eight per cent answered “no difference”, without prompting, and 21 per cent answered “don’t know”.
The survey also reveals, however, that older people are considerably more likely than younger people to answer “less valued”.
The percentage that express this view grows to 43 per cent for people in the 55-64 age bracket, compared to just 29% of this age group who answer “more valued”.
The gulf widens even further for people in the 65+ bracket, with nearly twice as many respondents - 45 per cent - answering they would be “less valued” if assisted suicide was to be made available on the NHS, compared to the 24 per cent who took the opposing view.
A spokesman for ALERT said: “The results of this opinion poll are significant for two reasons. First, they suggest that, in spite of claims to the contrary, the British pubic have concerns about the implications the legalisation of assisted suicide.
“Secondly, they suggest that one of the groups of people most vulnerable to the abuses that would inevitably follow a change in the law – the elderly - are the people who fear the legalisation of assisted suicide the most.
“The reasons for such fears are obvious and well-grounded: if assisted suicide was ever to become law the most vulnerable members of society would soon be made to feel that their lives are not worth living and pressure would be applied upon them to end their lives prematurely. It is for their sake, as well as for the sake of the health of society in general, that all future attempts to change the law to permit assisted suicide must be always vigorously resisted.”