Mark Twain famously said,
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Twain’s statement has come to life in the recent Compassion & Choices poll that is ostensibly about Coloradans views regarding assisted suicide. Compassion & Choices, Formerly the Hemlock Society, commissioned a poll by Strategies 360, a marketing and damage control firm hired by Compassion & Choices to run their media campaign for assisted suicide in Colorado.
Their poll asked ” Should mentally competent, terminally ill patients with less than six months to live be able to end their life using prescription medications they can self-administer? This would be entirely voluntary on the part of all participants, including the patient, physician, and any other health care provider. Do you support or oppose this proposal?”
Note they do not use the term suicide, or assisted suicide. This is very deliberate on the part of C&C. As noted in an article by KUNC, supporters of assisted suicide “realizing that suicide has negative connotations associated with sin and desperation, shifted their language.” The polls conducted by C&C’s public relations firm, and touted in a recent media push, does not use the term suicide. Predictably, when using euphemistic language, support for assisted suicide increases.
Contrast the C&C poll with the Pew Research Center’s poll on “Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments,” November 2013. National telephone survey of adults (18+) living in all 50 states and D.C. Results based on 1,994 interviews (970 landline; 1,024 cell phone) in English and Spanish as appropriate, from March 21 to April 8, 2013. Margin of error ±2.9%. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/views-on-end-of-life-medical-treatments/
|2013||% Disapprove||% Approve|
|% of adults who say they disapprove or approve of laws to allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients:||49||47|
Pew report notes this close divide has been very stable since 2005.
The Pew poll, conducted by a non-partisan group, is thorough, and has a clear margin of error. It also measure Americans’ opinions based upon accurate language. This stands in stark contrast to the Compassion & Choices poll that uses euphemistic language.
Suicide is defined by Webster’s as: “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.” This is exactly what C&C supports. Why not call the act suicide? They intentionally do not so as to manipulate statistics. Compassion & Choices is lying to Coloradans. We must not allow them to get away with it.