ADVANTAGES

Physicians' personal experiences and values influence their positions on these issues. For example, the doctors who had the least contact with terminally ill patients were the most likely to support the legalization of assisted suicide, a finding consistent with the attitude of physicians in the state of Washington. The widely replicated finding that strongly religious people are the most likely group to oppose such legalization was as evident in our study among physicians as among all adults in Michigan. Of the doctors who were asked about the importance of religion in their lives, those who said it was “very important” were the least likely to support legalization. Nevertheless, half of them were still willing to choose between the two legalization plans, and they favored Plan B by a three-to-one margin. This suggests that among those with the greatest reservations about legalization, the additional safeguards in Plan B — palliative-care consultants and committees — made that plan more acceptable than Plan A.

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