Poll: No Role for Government in Schiavo Case

Regardless of their preference on the Schiavo case, about two-thirds of conservatives and evangelicals alike call congressional intervention inappropriate. And majorities in both groups, as in others, are skeptical of the motivations of the political leaders seeking to extend Schiavo's life.

Should Federal Government Intervene?
Support Oppose
Non-evangelical 26% 71
Evangelical 44 50
Catholics 38 56
Liberals 34 62
Moderates 29 67
Conservatives 48 49
Democrats 34 63
Independents 31 61
Republicans 39 58
Conservative Reps. 41 57

Preference and Experience

Public views on this issue are informed in part by Americans' preferences for their own care if they were in a similar situation: Sixteen percent would want life support; as noted, 78 percent would not. While still a very large majority, that's down from 87 percent in an ABC News/Washington Poll last week.

Among people who favor removing Schiavo's life support, 94 percent say that's also what they would want for themselves. By contrast, people who oppose removing the feeding tube in Schiavo's case divide about evenly on what they'd want for themselves: Forty-five percent would want life support, 41 percent would not.

Some speak from experience: A third of Americans say they've had friends or family members who passed away in a hospital or other care facility after life support was removed; nearly two in 10 say they were personally involved in that decision. People who've been personally involved in such a decision are more apt than others to support removing Schiavo's feeding tube and to say they personally would not want life support.

Age and Attention

There are differences among age groups. Senior citizens are more apt than others to strongly support removing Schiavo's feeding tube, and also more apt to oppose federal intervention. And young adults are less likely to say that, as a result of the Schiavo case, they've discussed their own wishes with family or friends.

Just under six in 10 Americans are closely following the Schiavo case, including 16 percent who've been following it very closely -- a respectable albeit not overwhelming level of public attention. Young adults, age 18 to 29, are less than half as likely as their elders to be following the case closely -- just 27 percent are doing so. There's an irony in that result: Schiavo herself was stricken at age 26.


This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone March 20, 2005, among a random national sample of 501 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

You can find more ABC News polls in our Poll Vault.

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