Most Utahns say they would favor legislation giving terminally ill people the "right to die."
58% said they would be for allowing medical personnel to assist terminally ill patients deemed to be "mentally competent" with drugs designed to end their lives. 35% of Utahns say they would be opposed.
Lawmakers will debate such a measure during the upcoming 2016 Legislature as Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) plans to introduce the "Death with Dignity" Act come January. A similar measure from Chavez-Houck was sent to a committee during the 2015 session, but lawmakers declined to take action on the bill.
This procedure is different than assisted suicide as the fatal drugs are self-administered by the patient rather than by a doctor.
A potential sticking point for such a measure passing is the definition of "mentally competent." Last year's proposal referred the patient to a physician to determine if they were "capable" of understanding the request for life-ending drugs. Patients could also be sent to counseling if needed.
It's not too much of a stretch to think lawmakers would seriously consider a right-to-die measure. Last year the legislature passed a "right-to-try" law giving terminally ill patients the ability to try experimental drugs and treatments that may not have been fully approved by the feds. This measure is simply the opposite side of that coin.
Republicans are divided on the issue with 41% saying they favor "right-to-die" legislation and 50% opposed. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly prefer the idea with 90% of Democrats and 67% of independents supporting.
There's not much of a religious divide on the question. The only group in our survey opposed to allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives were those who identified as "very active" members of the LDS Church.
- "Very active" LDS Church members oppose right-to-die legislation by a 54-38% margin.
- "Somewhat active" Mormons favor the idea 79-16%.
- "Not active" LDS Church members back the idea 87-11%.
- 76% of Catholics are in support as are 80% of Protestants
- 94% of those who say they don't ascribe to any religion favor the idea.
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from Nov. 5-14, 2015 among 624 adult Utahns. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.92%.