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Majority Would Remove Schiavo's Feeding Tube

Three times as many Americans think Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed as think it should remain and — if in her place — most Americans say they would prefer the tube be removed.

When asked to consider what action they would take if they were Schiavo's guardian, a 61 percent majority says they would remove her feeding tube and 22 percent would keep the tube inserted, according to the latest FOX News national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation.

Terri Schiavo (search ) is the Florida woman who has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since 1990. Schiavo's husband, who believes his wife would rather die than be kept alive artificially, is currently in a heated legal battle against her parents. Terri's parents believe she could still recover and want the feeding tube to remain. After Schiavo's feeding tube had been removed for several days, it was recently re-inserted by an order from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"It seems clear that if the governor and the Florida Legislature passed the law and ordered the tube replaced for political motives, as some of their critics have charged, then they miscalculated the politics," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search ). "On every important point of the dispute, the public agrees with Mr. Schiavo and the courts that have ruled on this matter."

Majorities of young Americans and seniors, men and women would remove the feeding tube in Schiavo's case and would want it removed if they were in a similar circumstance. Self-described conservatives are less likely than liberals to support removing Schiavo's feeding tube, but still a majority of conservatives supports removal (56 percent to 70 percent among liberals).

Half of Americans believe the spouse should be the decision maker in right-to-die cases, while just under a third say the parents or other family members should be the ones to decide. Hardly any think the decision should be left to the government (two percent) or to the patient's doctor (four percent).

Polling was conducted by telephone October 28-29, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.  

1. If a patient has been in what doctors call a “persistent vegetative” or a coma-like state with no higher brain activity for a significant amount of time, who do you think should make the decision whether the patient should be kept alive or not?

1. The person’s parents
or other family members
31%
2. The person’s spouse 50
3. The government 2
4. (The person’s doctor) 4
5. (Not sure) 13

2. Terri Schiavo has been in a so-called “persistent vegetative state” since 1990. Her eyes sometimes open, but doctors say she has no consciousness. Terri’s husband says his wife would rather die than be kept alive artificially and wants her feeding tube removed. Terri’s parents believe she could still recover and want the feeding tube to remain. If you were Terri’s guardian, what would you do?
SCALE: 1. Would you remove the feeding tube 2. Or would you keep the feeding tube inserted? 3. (Not sure)

Remove Keep (NS)
TOTAL ANSWER 61% 22 17
Female 62% 20 18
Male 60% 25 15
Age 18-34 64% 25 11
35-50 57% 26 17
51-59 66% 17 17
60-70 67% 18 15
Over 70 60% 17 22
Democrat 68% 20 13
Republican 56% 26 17
Independent 58% 19 23
Liberal 70% 18 13
Moderate 61% 24 15
Conservative 56% 26 18

3. If you were in Terri Schiavo’s place, what would you want your guardian to do? Would you have your guardian:

1. Remove the feeding tube or 74%
2. Keep the feeding tube inserted? 16
3. (Not sure) 10