Majority of Austrians support euthanasia

Sixty-two per cent of Austrians support euthanasia by doctors for patients who request it, the results of a new poll commissioned by Graz Medical University released today (Weds) show.The percentage is 13 percentage points higher than in 2000, it said.In the poll, 66 per cent of men and 58.5 per cent of women said they supported euthanasia.Graz social medicine expert Wolfgang Freidl called for a detailed discussion of euthanasia, recalling what the Nazis had done to eliminate people considered undesirable.So-called active euthanasia, or employment of measures that cause a patient’s death, is illegal in Austria, but passive euthanasia, or the non-employment of measures to keep a terminally-ill or injured person alive, is not, and doctors must respect patients’ wishes in that regard.The Institute for Social Medicine and Epidemiology polled 1,000 Austrians older than 15 for Graz Medical University.A hidden case of euthanasia came to light several days ago in the UK. Ray Gosling, 70, a moderator for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), divulged on the programme “Inside Out” this past Monday that he had smothered his former male partner with a pillow.He said his partner had been lying helpless in a hospital, suffering from AIDS, and doctors had said they could no nothing more for him.Gosling said: “I asked the doctor to let me be alone with him for a few minutes, and he left the room. I took a pillow and held it against my partner’s face until he was dead. The doctor returned, and I said ‘he is gone.’ Nothing more was said.”When a person loves someone, he cannot see him suffer. We had previously agreed on what to do when the pain became intolerable and doctors could do nothing more. He had such terrible pain that it broke my heart,” Gosling said.Gosling declined to disclose the name of his partner or the hospital.He added that he was aware that police would question him in the wake of his disclosure. He said BBC had assured him of its full support.Euthanasia is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in the UK.