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Three in four Britons support assisted dying -poll

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) A controversial right-to-die bill returns to the House of Lords today, as a poll showed three-quarters of people are in favour of changing the law so that the terminally ill can be allowed to die.

Of 1,770 respondents questioned in the YouGov survey for the Dignity in Dying group, 76 percent were in favour of assisted dying as long as safeguards were in place.

Lord Joffe's bill, assisted dying for the terminally ill, goes to the Lords for its second reading today facing mounting opposition from doctors and religious groups.

A Royal College of Physicians poll showed 73 per cent of its members are against any change in the law to allow physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, is against the bill and is one of 81 speakers due to take part in the debate.

All the political parties are allowing a free vote on the issue and public opinion is split over the issue.

A poll in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend showed 65 per cent of people agreed that if the proposed law change went ahead, ''vulnerable people could feel under pressure to opt for suicide''.

A third of respondents in today's poll described themselves as Church of England, Anglican or Episcopal, 9 per cent were Roman Catholic and 40 per cent said they were not religious.

Bill supporters say doctors should be able to prescribe drugs that a terminally ill person suffering terrible pain could take to end his or her own life.

A high profile ''right to die'' case was Diane Pretty, who died four years ago this week of motor neurone disease. She took her fight for the right to die to the European Court of Human Rights but lost.

Reuters SI GC0937

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