Volume 17, Issue 2, Summer 2017
Frederick J. White III, MD
Lessons from Recent Polls on Physician-Assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted suicide is an active political issue, and recent polls have indicated shifts in public opinion in favor of its permissibility and moral acceptability. However, structural errors and biasing effects exist in these polls, including several subtle logical fallacies as well as cognitive and reporting biases. Analysis of the polls suggests that public support for physician-assisted suicide is more conditional and much softer than the popular news headlines indicate. An understanding of how these factors function beneath the headlines provides important lessons for the discussion of physician-assisted suicide.