Poll: No Role for Government in Schiavo Case
March 21, 2005 -- -- Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.
That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more -- 70 percent -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.
This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a direct result of hearing about this case, they've spoken with friends or family members about what they'd want done if they were in a similar condition. Nearly eight in 10 would not want to be kept alive.
In addition to the majority, the intensity of public sentiment is also on the side of Schiavo's husband, who has fought successfully in the Florida courts to remove her feeding tube. And intensity runs especially strongly against congressional involvement.
Included among the 63 percent who support removing the feeding tube are 42 percent who "strongly" support it -- twice as many as strongly oppose it. And among the 70 percent who call congressional intervention inappropriate are 58 percent who hold that view strongly -- an especially high level of strong opinion.
Views on this issue are informed more by ideological and religious views than by political partisanship. Republicans overall look much like Democrats and independents in their opinions.
But two core Republican groups -- conservatives and evangelical Protestants -- are more divided: Fifty-four percent of conservatives support removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, compared with seven in 10 moderates and liberals. And evangelical Protestants divide about evenly -- 46 percent are in favor of removing the tube, 44 percent opposed. Among non-evangelical Protestants, 77 percent are in favor -- a huge division between evangelical and mainline Protestants.
Conservatives and evangelicals also are more likely to support federal intervention in the case, although it doesn't reach a majority in either group. Indeed, conservative Republicans oppose involving the federal courts, by 57 percent-41 percent.