The latest research conducted by Populus is the largest of its kind

The research commissioned by Dignity in Dying and conducted by Populus surveys the opinions of over five thousand people across England, Wales and Scotland. It shows that an overwhelming majority of people support assisted dying proposals.

Not only has support increased, but it is widespread. The poll, conducted by Populus, found that support for assisted dying has increased from 82% since our last survey in 2015, and that support is consistently strong across demographics including gender, age, social grade and region.

Support for assisted dying for terminally ill people rises among those who stated they have a disability. The results show broad support for assisted dying across most faith groups, including more than 82% support amongst Christians.

Exploring changing views on assisted dying

The research comes just two weeks after the Royal College of Physicians decided to adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying following its own survey of members, and a week after New Jersey became the eighth state in the USA to permit choice at the end of life.

Under current laws, assisted dying is prohibited in England and Wales under the Suicide Act (1961), and in Northern Ireland under the Criminal Justice Act (1966) which states that anyone who “encourages or assists a suicide” is liable to up to 14 years in prison. There is no specific crime of assisting a suicide in Scotland, but it is possible that helping a person to die could lead to prosecution for culpable homicide.

In 2015 MPs rejected plans for a right to die in England and Wales in the first vote on the issue in almost 20 years. The latest research shows that over half (52%) of the UK public would feel more positively towards their MP if they supported assisted dying, compared to just 6% who would feel more negatively.

Dignity in Dying’s Chief Executive Sarah Wootton said:

“This poll confirms that assisted dying has huge public support in the country, with five out of every six Brits wanting a change in the law. In these divided times, there is a cause that unites the vast majority of the country and that is seeking a more compassionate law for dying people.”

Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It campaigns within the law to change the law, to allow assisted dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults with six months or less to live. Dignity in Dying does not provide practical assistance or advice in ending life, nor does it provide enquirers with the contact details of organisations who do so.

Populus is a full service research and strategy consultancy that delivers Critical Knowledge; that is, the bespoke research solutions needed to answer an organisation’s most vital questions. We carry out research with the power to shape a healthy political, social and economic environment.

Methodology

Populus interviewed 5,695 adults (aged 18+) in Great Britain online between 22 and 24 March 2019. Quotas and weights were used to ensure the sample was representative of the GB adult population. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Interviews were conducted across Great Britain, with an increased sample level in Scotland, and the results have been weighted to be representative of all British adults.

Data tables can be viewed here.

The last major assisted dying poll, conducted by Populus in 2015 of 5,018 adults, found 82% of the public was supportive of a change in the law on assisted dying. The full results can be accessed here.