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Majority of Poles support euthanasia

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 10.01.2013 09:34
A new poll indicates that the majority of Poles support the practice of euthanasia, suggesting that attitudes are shifting in the pre-dominantly Roman Catholic country.

Photo: Glowimages

According to the survey by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS), 53 percent of the population would be in favour of such treatment, should Poland's stringent laws on the matter be changed.

This pertains to euthanasia in its broadly understood form; medical assistance in accelerating the death of a terminally ill patient provided that the patient has asked for such help.

Some 39 percent of respondents were opposed to this medical practice being introduced.

At present, all forms of euthanasia are illegal in Poland, including turning the life-support systems off on a brain-damaged patient.

As revealed by the poll, 65 percent of respondents supported the prospective right of a family to approve of life support machines being turned off on a family member, if the patient had suffered irrevocable brain damage.

Nevertheless, respondents had notably more reservations concerning patients who suffer a severe accident and then ask doctors to turn off the life support machines. Some 45 percent of those surveyed approved of a patient's right in such an eventuality, while 45 percent were against.

A national debate on the matter was sparked in 2007, when a patient named Janusz Switaj fought a court case to have his life support machines turned off, after being paralysed in a motorcycle accident.

He ultimately lost the battle, but has reconciled himself with his fate, and although confined to a wheelchair and a respirator, now performs charity work.

The poll was carried out on 952 Polish adults.'

In another example of shifting attitudes, a poll published yesterday highlighted that support for same-sex marriage has grown from just 8 percent in 2003 to 16 percent in 2012. (nh)

tags: euthanasia
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