For the first time ever Malta has recorded a majority in support of the introduction of Euthanasia. 52.6% support the right to legally end one’s life if a person is terminally ill and suffering. This results from a survey conducted by statistician Dr Vince Marmara, and seen by TheJournal.mt. On the other hand, 26.7% disagree, and another 20.7% are still undecided.
This marks a significant shift from previous surveys published on the subject. When asked to comment on his analysis, Dr Marmara said that “in the past ten years we have seen a shift in public opinion as people are more open to the rights of others. The divorce referendum as well as progress on the rights of minorities are key factors in this shift.”
Dr Marmara added that in previous surveys where the question was not attached to terminally ill patients, 70% of undecided respondents claimed that their opinion depended on the circumstances of the case.
This time, respondents were asked the following question:
If a person is terminally ill and suffering, should doctors help him/her to legally end his/her life?
The yes vote is consistent across all age groups apart from the 66+ cohort, with support among the youth bracket significantly high. In fact, support among those aged 16-25 stands at 61.4%, and this rises to 64.4% for those aged between 26-35. On the other hand, 45.3% of those aged 66+ are against, with 41.5% in favour.
Support across the political divide?
Another significant aspect of these findings shows a majority in favour of Euthanasia among both Labour and Nationalist voters, albeit in different proportions. Nearly two thirds of respondents who voted Labour in 2017 endorse Euthanasia, 65.3%, with only 19.4% opposing it and 15.3% still undecided. On the other side of the spectrum, 37.9% of Nationalist voters say yes, 31.8% disagree and 30.3% of respondents are still undecided.
Among those who support Euthanasia, 49.6% believe that it is a human right, while 39.1% of those opposing Euthanasia say that they base their opinion on religion and faith.
When asked whether they agree that “everyone has the right to decide what to do with their life”, 69.2% of respondents said they strongly agree, 16.4% said they slightly agree and 14.4% disagreed.
Moreover, 70% of respondents say that they strongly agree that Euthanasia eliminates unnecessary suffering, 16.6% say they slightly agree while 13.3% disagree.
The need for national debate
There’s a general understanding among respondents that not enough information is available on what Euthanasia involves or entails, with 77.5% of respondents expressing this concern.
Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of 88% believe that the subject should be discussed on a national scale. Only 9.2% believe that Euthanasia should not be discussed.
In January, Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged a public discussion on Euthanasia, saying that the issue cannot be ignored any longer. On his part, in the run up to the Nationalist Party’s leadership election last year, Bernard Grech declared that he was against Euthanasia.
The survey was carried out between Monday 1 February and Monday 22 February with a sample size of 600 individuals amongst the Maltese population of 16 years and over. The margin of error is estimated at +/- 4% with a confidence level of 95%. The sample was stratified based on age, gender and districts.