chapter  2
38 Pages

Death with Dignity The Early States, 1991–1992

When Dr. Jack Kevorkian assisted his first known suicide patient in June 1990, people all around the nation were expressing general support for the right to die. A poll conducted by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press indicated that eight in ten Americans believed that patients should be allowed to die in some circumstances, and half believed that incurably ill people should have a right to commit suicide (Associated Press 1990). The latter figure was up from 40 percent who expressed such a view in a 1975 Gallup poll. And that increase was even larger when respondents were asked what could be done with patients suffering great pain with no hope for improvement. In that instance, 55 percent said there is a moral right to commit suicide (Associated Press 1990). That number was up 9 percent from Gallup’s 1975 survey.