A majority of New Jersey voters support a proposed law that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally-ill people with less than six months to live, a new poll has revealed.
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll found that 46 percent support the “Death with Dignity Act,’’ sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli, while 38 percent oppose it.
The big split among voters appears to be based on their religious beliefs.
“Much of the opposition to the bill comes from people who attend church services regularly,’’ the pollsters said in a statement. “In contrast, support was evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.’’
If the bill is passed, doctors would be able to prescribe deadly amounts of prescription drugs. Patients with less than six months to live would self-administer the medications 15 days after requesting them.
The request would have to be made in writing, and signed by two witnesses.
Patients determined to have impaired judgment would not be eligible for the assisted-suicide program.
“This is an issue that hasn’t really been politicized, at least not in New Jersey,” said Cassino. “People can’t generally turn to political leaders for advice on how to feel about it, so they’re relying on religious views instead.”
Surprisingly, the poll found that many people were unaware of the bill — 55 percent said they hadn’t heard about it at all.
“Most voters simply don’t know much about the bill,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and analyst for the poll.
“And that means that there’s still plenty of room for people on either side of the bill to change people’s minds.”
Three states — Montana, Oregon, and Washington, — now allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses.
The poll, conducted from Oct. 26-29 and reported Monday by nj.com
, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
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