Farm Fest straw poll favors death with dignity

At the Fredonia Farm Festival this past August, the League of Women Voter’s annual straw poll concerned “death with dignity.” This is the movement that seeks to secure terminally ill patients the right to physician assistance in dying, but only on two conditions: 1) that doctors believe that the patient has no more than six months to live and 2) that psychiatrists determine that the patient is mentally competent to decide for him-or herself. A bill establishing this right in New York state is currently under discussion in Albany.

There is nothing scientific about the LWV poll, but it’s still remarkable that 200 people were in favor of the proposed right while only 26 people opposed it. In the United States, the right was first established by law in Oregon, and now exists also in California, Colorado, Vermont, Washington D.C., and Washington state. There is no evidence that the law in any of these places has been abused, although fears of abuse have prevented the law’s enactment in Albany in past years. It may be that public opinion on this matter is growing in favor of assisted death for the terminally ill in New York state.

In November, the League of Women Voters will be holding a discussion on this topic. Particulars will be announced in due course.

COMMENTS