A new Zogby poll released contrasts with the findings of earlier national surveys on the Terri Schiavo case. When the questions were asked in a way more reflective of the actual situation, the true complexities of the case and the American majority’s clearer moral sensibilities emerge.
No one with intellectual honesty can say with a straight face that Zogby is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. But the Democrat-leaning pollster demonstrated the simple effectiveness of asking specific and relevant questions.
Here are some key findings, as reported by Life News, the first suggesting popular approval for erring on the side of life:
The Zogby poll found that, if a person becomes incapacitated and has not expressed their preference for medical treatment, as in Terri’s case, 43 percent say “the law presume that the person wants to live, even if the person is receiving food and water through a tube” while just 30 percent disagree.
And this on the act of depriving Terri of nutrition and hydration:
“If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water,” the poll asked.
A whopping 79 percent said the patient should not have food and water taken away while just 9 percent said yes.
Regarding the complexities of the lack of clarity of Terri’s own expressed wishes shows a great uncertainty and a great hesitancy to follow the dogmatic rush to death:
“When there is conflicting evidence on whether or not a patient would want to be on a feeding tube, should elected officials order that a feeding tube be removed or should they order that it remain in place,” respondents were asked.
Some 18 percent said the feeding tube should be removed and 42 percent said it should remain in place.
Finally, regarding the status of Michael as guardian, a small majority did not favor the opinion of Florida Judge George Greer:
The poll found that 49 percent of Americans believe there should be exceptions to the right of a spouse to act as a guardian for an incapacitated spouse. Only 39 percent disagreed.
When asked directly about Terri’s case and told the her estranged husband Michael “has had a girlfriend for 10 years and has two children with her” 56 percent of Americans believed guardianship should have been turned over to Terri’s parents while 37 percent disagreed.
What a difference the poll questions make.
Hat tip to Blogs for Terri.
Curious Stranger says
The poll, which appears to be unavailable, appears to have been paid for, not just reported on, by Life News. Given this, as you’ve pointed out in the past, its rather important that the poll’s wording be seen.
It is important to see how the poll questions are worded, and most of them are directly quoted above. If you or someone could point me to an original copy of the poll, I’d love to look at it and examine it.
Curious Stranger says
The original copy doesn’t appear available (on purpose perhaps?). The first question you quote, is not quoted completely, so who knows what else it says. The second and third miss the point. Michael Schiavo was her guardian. In the absence of her wishes being known, he gets to make the decision, not the public or elected officials. This is well worn legal territory, and failing some evidence that convinces the court he is an inappropriate guardian these questions are moot. As for the last one, it’s so vague (what are these possible exceptions they mention) as to be useless as a gauge of anything.