Back To Listing

It's Official: Australians support assisted dying or euthanasia

This special Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey was conducted on the night of November 2, 2017 with a representative cross-section of 1,386 Australians aged 18+.
It’s Official: A large majority of Australians, 87% (up a significant 18% from May 1996) are in favour of ‘letting patients die when they are hopelessly ill and experiencing unrelievable suffering with no chance of recovery’ compared to 10% (down 7%) who say doctors should ‘try to keep patients alive’ and 3% (down 11%) who are undecided.

In addition a large majority of Australians, 85% (up 11% from May 1996) are in favour of allowing a doctor to ‘give a lethal dose when a patient is hopelessly ill with no chance of recovery and asks for a lethal dose’ compared to 15% (down 3%) who say a doctor should ‘not be allowed to give a lethal dose’.

This special Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey was conducted on the night of November 2, 2017 with a representative cross-section of 1,386 Australians aged 18+.


Questions:

“A question on hopelessly ill people experiencing unrelievable suffering. If there’s absolutely no chance of a patient recovering, should the doctor let the patient die – or should the doctor try to keep the patient alive as long as possible?

”Respondents who answered were then asked: “If a hopelessly ill patient with no chance of recovering asks for a lethal dose, should a doctor be allowed to give a lethal dose, or not?"


Historical Trends: Should a doctor let a patient die?

In 1946, when Roy Morgan first asked this question the Australian population was divided. 42% said ‘let the patient die’, 41% said ‘try to keep the patient alive’ and 17% were undecided. Since then support has increased fairly consistently.

Since the last poll in 1996 there has been a substantial increase in support of letting patients die. Now 87% of respondents support ‘letting patient die’, up 18% since 1996.  

 

Nov
1946

May
1955

Oct
1962

Nov
1978

Sep
1983

Apr
1986

Apr
1987

Apr
1989

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Let patient die

42

53

54

60

65

68

67

66

Try to keep patient alive

41

38

32

23

18

16

21

20

Undecided

17

9

14

17

17

16

12

14

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Jul
1990

Jul
1991

Mar
1992

May
1993

May
1994

Jun
1995

May
1996

Nov
2017

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Let patient die

71

69

73

73

71

71

69

87

Try to keep patient alive

19

21

18

15

13

15

17

10

Undecided

10

10

9

12

16

14

14

3

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by Voting Preference: Should a doctor let a patient die?

Analysis of supporters of various political parties shows large majorities of supporters of all parties support ‘letting the patient die’ led by 91% of Greens voters, 88% of National voters 87% of ALP voters and 86% of Liberal voters. 

Total

Electors

Liberal

National

ALP

Greens

Other

Can’t say

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Let patient die

87

86

86

88

87

91

74

92

Try to keep patient alive

10

10

11

12

9

5

22

8

Undecided

3

4

3

-

4

4

4

-

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by Gender & Age: Should a doctor let a patient die?

Analysing by gender shows that large majorities of women (89%) and men 84% are in favour of ‘letting patients die and respondents of all age groups, especially older respondents, are in favour of ‘letting patients die’. 

Total

Gender

Age

Men

Women

18-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Let patient die

87

84

89

87

78

88

89

90

Try to keep patient alive

10

11

9

9

16

9

8

9

Undecided

3

5

2

4

6

3

3

1

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by State: Should a doctor let a patient die?

Analysis by state shows that a clear majority of all states are in favour of ‘letting patients die’. 92% of Tasmanians 92% support ‘letting patients die’ but all other states and city and country areas are more than 80% in favour. 

Total

State

Region

NSW

VIC

QLD

WA

SA

TAS

City

Country

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Let patient die

87

84

85

88

89

90

92

85

90

Try to keep patient alive

10

11

12

10

7

8

3

11

7

Undecided

3

5

3

2

4

2

5

4

3

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Historical Trends: Should a doctor be allowed to give a patient a lethal dose?

In 1962 when Roy Morgan first asked this question the population was divided – more favouring allowing a doctor to give a lethal dose (47%) than not (39%) and 14% undecided. Support increased consistently over the years to 1996.

There has also been a marked increase in support of allowing doctors ‘giving a lethal dose’ since the last survey in 1996. Now a large majority of 85% of respondents say a doctor should be allowed to ‘give a patient a lethal dose’ compared to 74% of respondents in 1996. 

Nov
1946

May
1955

Oct
1962

Nov
1978

Sep
1983

Apr
1986

Apr
1987

Apr
1989

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Give lethal dose

n/a

n/a

47

67

67

66

75

71

Not give lethal dose

n/a

n/a

39

22

21

21

18

20

Undecided

n/a

n/a

14

11

12

13

7

9

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Jul
1990

Jul
1991

Mar
1992

May
1993

May
1994

Jun
1995

May
1996

Nov
2017

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Give lethal dose

77

73

76

78

78

78

74

85

Not give lethal dose

17

20

18

15

13

14

18

15

Undecided

6

7

6

7

9

8

8

-

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by Voting Preference: Should a doctor be allowed to give a patient a lethal dose?

Analysis of supporters of various political parties shows 95% of Greens voters support allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’ ahead of ALP voters on 87% and Liberal and National voters, both on 81%. 

Total

Electors

Liberal

National

ALP

Greens

Other

Can’t say

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Give lethal dose

85

84

81

81

87

95

72

63

Not give lethal dose

15

16

19

19

13

5

28

37

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by Gender & Age: Should a doctor be allowed to give a patient a lethal dose?

Analysing patterns by gender shows that a larger majority of women (86%) are in favour of allowing doctors ‘give a lethal dose’ compared to 83% of men.

Analysing by age group shows all age groups have large majorities in favour of allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’ with 18-24yr olds (92%) the most in favour compared to those aged 65+ (81%). 

Total

Gender

Age

Men

Women

18-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Give lethal dose

85

83

86

92

84

85

84

81

Not give lethal dose

15

17

14

8

16

15

16

19

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100


Analysis by State: Should a doctor be allowed to give a patient a lethal dose?

Support for allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’ is also consistent across the country with clear majorities in all six States in favour of allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’ to patients. The State with the largest support is Western Australia in which 88% of respondents support allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’. All other states and city and country areas are over 80% in support of allowing doctors to ‘give a lethal dose’. 

Total

State

Region

NSW

VIC

QLD

WA

SA

TAS

City

Country

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Give lethal dose

85

82

86

86

88

83

85

83

88

Not give lethal dose

15

18

14

14

12

17

15

17

12

TOTAL

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Australians have overwhelmingly backed the right of doctors to administer lethal doses to patients in a result that supports the Victorian Government’s euthanasia legislation recently passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament.

“A large majority of 87% of Australians (up 18% since May 1996) say doctors should allow ‘hopelessly ill patients experiencing unrelievable suffering to die’ and almost as many, 85% (up 11% since May 1996) say doctors should be allowed to ‘give a lethal dose’ to a patient with no chance of recovering.

“Support for both contentions is exceedingly strong amongst supporters of all major political parties (above 80% for both questions), amongst both genders (above 80% for both questions), amongst all age groups (above 75% for both questions) and in all Australian States (above 80% for both questions).

“Although the question of euthanasia has always provoked a great deal of debate, the views of the Australian public has decisively moved in favour of the action over the last two decades.

“From the first surveys in the 1940s, 50s and 60s there was a consistent increase in support then between 1987 and 1996 support for doctors allowing hopelessly ill patients to die barely changed (67% in April 1987 cf. 69% in May 1996), while support for allowing doctors to administer a lethal dose actually dropped over the nine years to May 1996 (75% in April 1987 cf. 74% in May 1996).

“Today’s results show that, although the Victorian euthanasia legislation is the first time an Australian State has passed legislation allowing euthanasia, the State Government is unlikely to suffer any political fallout from the move.”

Finding No. 7373 – This special Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey was conducted as the Victorian Parliament debates contentious legislation concerning the potential legalisation of euthanasia. The survey was conducted on Thursday November 2, 2017 with a representative cross-section of 1,386 Australians. “A question on hopelessly ill people experiencing unrelievable suffering. If there’s absolutely no chance of a patient recovering, should the doctor let the patient die – or should the doctor try to keep the patient alive as long as possible?” Respondents who answered were then asked: “If a hopelessly ill patient with no chance of recovering asks for a lethal dose, should a doctor be allowed to give a lethal dose, or not?”

*To clarify the status of the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill at the time this poll was conducted. The Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has passed the Victorian Lower House and has passed its Second Reading in the Victorian Upper House. The bill now faces further amendments before the Third Reading. After the Third Reading the Bill will be passed into law with Governor’s royal assent.


For further information:

Contact

Office

Mobile

Gary Morgan:     

+61 3 9224 5213  

+61 411 129 094

Michele Levine:       

+61 3 9224 5215  

+61 411 129 093



About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2