Two-thirds of Americans say doctors should be allowed by law to assist patients who are terminally ill and living in severe pain to commit suicide.
In these summaries, religious leaders, scholars and ethicists from 16 major American religious groups explain how their faith traditions’ teachings address physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia and other end-of-life questions.
The Social, Legal and Political Dimensions of the End-of-Life Debate
Most Americans say there are circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die, but a growing minority says medical professionals always should do everything possible to save a patient’s life.
While most Americans approve of laws that say treatment can be stopped if that’s what a terminally ill patient desires, they are split on what they would do personally in that situation. Only 27% have put into writing their own wishes regarding end-of-life care.
Similar measures considered in several other states have failed in the state legislature or at the ballot box, while polls show the country still divided on the issue.
The Pew Forum analyzes the Supreme Court's January 17 decision that the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not give the U.S. attorney general the authority to prohibit Oregon doctors from prescribing lethal doses of drugs to certain terminally ill patients who want to end their own lives.