232. The MRS report drew the following conclusions
on the results of the surveys which it had identified and analysed.
It is worth quoting at length:
"The research carried out up to this point into
public and health sector attitudes to the legalisation of euthanasia
is limited in value and cannot be accepted at face value as an
authentic account of opinion within the United Kingdom. The subject
matter is extremely complex and sensitive and therefore very challenging
for anyone attempting to gain a meaningful understanding of opinion.
"This is particularly the case with regard to
the attitudes of the general public, whose real views on euthanasia
are clearly obscured by a lack of information on the subject and
by the lack of opportunity to reflect in an informed way upon
the implications of any change in the law for themselves and for
society. The levels of agreement/disagreement with the concept
of euthanasia which the numerous polls record are effectively
built on what might be termed a "knee-jerk" reaction
to the simple options provided by these polls and do not form
a very useful guide to public opinion as support for legislative
"Nevertheless, the apparent groundswell in public
agreement with the concept of euthanasia cannot be dismissed and
it is evident that there is much sympathy at a personal level
for the concept of legally releasing those wishing to die from
their pain and those willing to help them from legal consequences.
However, if the decisions of the Committee are to take authentic
account of properly informed public opinion, a significant investment
in more appropriate forms of research is undoubtedly required".
233. On the results of surveys among health sector
professionals, the report goes on to say that:
"health sector professionals tend by definition
to be better informed about the context and potential implications
of the legalisation of euthanasia, but here again most research
is superficial in coverage and only a few attempts have been made
to understand the basis of the opinions of doctors and others,
which from the data appear to vary in different directions over
time. Here too some fresh, impartial research, again of a deliberative
nature, is required in order to gain a full and useful understanding
of health sector views".