Campus News

Peach State Poll: Government has no proper role in end-of-life decisions by citizens

More than three in four Georgians (78 percent) believe that the government should stay out of issues determining whether a patient should be removed from life support or have feeding tubes removed. Another 70 percent say that they trust the courts only a little (16 percent) or not at all (54 percent) to make decisions about their care should they be in a persistent vegetative state.

On the other hand, 93 percent trust their family completely (72 percent) or a great deal (21 percent) to do what is best for them in making end-of-life decisions, according to the most recent Peach State Poll, a quarterly survey of public opinion conducted by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

In cases in which families are divided in their opinions, only 1 percent of respondents assert that the courts should then decide.

“It is clear that the public would prefer that government not interfere with these personal decisions,” says poll director Rich Clark.

Thirty-eight percent say that the opinion of the patient’s spouse should be given priority, and a plurality (45 percent) say that individual circumstances should be considered in determining whose opinion receives priority in deciding the fate of a terminally ill person who is dependent on life support.