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Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: focus on the data

Ezekiel Emanuel
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (10): 453. || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00558

I acknowledge Parker’s letter on my article.1 First, there are considerable data showing that the public support for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is less well defined than the numbers cited by proponents. The support is very susceptible to the framing effect, that is, when the cases are described differently, support varies widely. Public support is highest for patients in pain — precisely those patients who do not want or use euthanasia. However, support drops below 50% when the cases involve patients who want euthanasia or PAS because of loss of dignity or autonomy or fear of being a burden2 — which are the reasons motivating most patients who request euthanasia or PAS. The proponents are the ones who manipulate the data, citing the strong public support statistics, but never acknowledging that this support is for the rare cases.

  • Ezekiel Emanuel

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States

Correspondence: zemanuel@upenn.edu

Competing interests:

I am a stock holder at Nuna, a venture partner at Oak HC/FT, a contributor at Fox News and a speaker at Leigh Bureau.

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