On May 18, 2018 a survey on palliative care and euthanasia was published on the Portuguese blog “Think and Debate” (Pensar & Debater) revealing that a large majority of the population prefers investing in palliative care, rather than legalizing euthanasia.

The survey was recently conducted just when several legislative proposals are being tabled by left-wing parties to legalize euthanasia. Those proposals will be debated on May 29th.

According to the Portuguese Institute of Marketing Research who conducted the survey, the results reveal that only a minority is in favor of euthanasia (7%), while 89% of the population stated a preference for investing in palliative care and support in the event of serious illness.

The main fears expressed for the end-of-life issue are the fear of suffering (72% of those surveyed), the fear of being a burden for the family and those around them (61%), while 35% fear loneliness.

Beyond these fears, this survey clarified the fact that current legal provisions are not well understood. For example, 75% of the citizens were not aware that Portuguese law protects against unreasonable treatment, and also allows the patient the right to refuse care. This misunderstanding explains why some citizens are in favor of euthanasia.

Nonetheless, 67% of the population point out the potential abuses caused by a law in favor of euthanasia. The majority of the Portuguese denounce possible pressure on the elderly or vulnerable patients (67%), abusive euthanasia without the patient’s consent (57%) or for financial reasons (53%).