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Religious Brits ‘Support’ Assisted Suicide Finds Survey

May 1, 2013

The majority of British people who follow a religious faith support the law being changed to allow assisted suicide, research suggests.

Overall 70% of those questioned said they backed a change in the law, with 16% opposing it.

YouGov conducted an online poll of 4,437 British adults for the organisers of the Westminster Faith Debates.

A public debate on assisted suicide is being held by that group in London.

Any new government legislation would potentially make it possible for someone to help a terminally-ill person die without the possibility of prosecution for doing so.

The poll also says only Baptists, Muslims and Hindus do not have a majority in favour of a change.

Of those supporting a change in the law, 82% agreed that an “individual has the right to choose when and how to die”.

Almost 60% of those opposed to a change in the law agreed that “vulnerable people could be, or feel, pressured to die”.

Changing attitudes

Roman Catholics leaders have been particularly vocal against assisted suicide, yet among those who follow that religion 56% supported a change in the law.

But the poll also suggested that support for a law change fell among religious people who actively participate in church or religious group.

Only the Anglican, Jewish and Sikh faiths had a majority in favour of a change in the law in this category.

And support fell to 44% of Roman Catholics who actively participate in a church or religious group.

Professor Linda Woodhead, professor of sociology of religion at Lancaster University and co-host of the Westminster Faith Debates, said modern medicine advances had seen a change in people’s attitudes about death.

“We are used to having more control over our lives and I think that is partly why there is this overwhelming number of people saying that they have a right to decide for themselves,” she said.

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