Poll shows views on assisted dying
Only one in three people would change the law to allow doctors to help physically disabled adults who are not terminally ill to die, a poll showed.
The survey, commissioned by campaigners for a change in the law on assisted dying, showed most people saw a difference between helping terminally ill adults to die and assistance for those who were not dying.
Three in four people said terminally ill adults who want to die should be able to ask their doctor for help, while only one in three said physically disabled adults who were not terminally ill should have the same right.
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "The results clearly show that the public, like Dignity in Dying, support a change in the law to allow assisted dying whereby a terminally ill, mentally competent adult can ask for help to die in their final days or weeks if their suffering becomes unbearable.
"The majority of the public do not support legalising assisted suicide where non-terminally ill people are given assistance to die at their request. The law should reflect this important difference."
The poll of more than 2,000 people also showed that, if there was a change in the law, four out of five people said terminally ill adults should be able to request medical assistance to die.
Just 36% of those surveyed thought physically disabled adults who were not terminally ill should have the same right and only 30% thought it should apply to any mentally competent adult who wants to die.
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of the Care Not Killing Alliance, said: "The pro-euthanasia lobby have commissioned this survey to bolster support for their campaign to make assisted suicide legal for people who are terminally ill but they have so far failed to come up with precise definitions of 'terminally ill' or 'disabled' that have satisfied decision-makers and legislators.
"Disabled people and terminally ill people are not distinct groups - many disabled people are terminally ill and many terminally ill people are disabled."
A change in the law would "inevitably place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives and expose them to exploitation and abuse by those with an interest, financial or otherwise, in their deaths", he said.