Do Australian Christians support euthanasia?

Xavier Symons
May 13, 2017
Reproduced with Permission

A recent episode of Australian television show Q&A sparked debate about the level of Christian support for assisted dying in Australia. Author and journalist Nikki Gemmell, a panelist on the show, claimed that "80% of Australians and up to 70% of Catholics and Anglicans" support euthanasia laws.

Audience members were sceptical, and requested that the claim be verified.

According to a Fact-Check published in The Conversation , Gemmell's statement "is backed up by a number of surveys - but not all." Southern Cross University Aged Services Professor Colleen Cartwright wrote that "public support can drop significantly depending on the questions asked, how the survey was conducted and who conducted it". Cartwright discussed a variety of polls, some of which suggested that up to 74% of Catholics and 81% of Anglicans supported euthanasia, while others reported that only 28% of Catholics and 25% of Anglicans supported euthanasia.

"Support for voluntary euthanasia is generally higher when the question asks about patients with "unrelievable suffering" who have "absolutely no chance of recovering"", Cartwright said. "Support falls when patients do not have a terminal illness".

In a review of the article, University of Newcastle legal academic Charles Douglas observed that "support might be lower if a model of assisted death is specified".

" [One] study reported 73% approval for unspecified assistance, 64% support for a doctor "administering life-ending medication" and 55% support for a doctor "prescribing life-ending medication that the patient could take"", Douglas said.