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USATODAY Sept. 29, 2017

Floridians favor physician-assisted suicide

The state outlaws it, but a clear majority of Floridians favor giving terminally ill patients the option of ending their own lives with the help of a doctor, a new survey suggests.

Nearly six of 10 respondents – 59 percent – to the University of South Florida-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey said they view allowing physician-assisted suicide as “going in the right direction.” That’s three times more than the 18 percent who opted for “wrong direction.” Another 24 percent weren’t sure or had no opinion.

Support is highest among older Floridians 65-79 (65 percent), whites (64 percent), Hispanics (63 percent), and the unemployed (62 percent). Support levels are lowest among blacks (32 percent), many of whom believe it is morally wrong based on their religion, the survey found.

“Other (blacks) are distrustful of the health-care system,” Susan MacManus, a political science professor at USF, wrote in the survey. “Because they see it as racist, they are reticent to allow physicians to end their own or a loved one’s life.”

Regionally, residents of the Orlando region (68 percent) express the strongest support for the option. The greatest opposition is from North Florida — home to the state’s highest share of religious conservatives and a younger population overall.

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