40 per cent Australians support euthanasia: study

The research, commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia (AA), indicated strong support for the permitted, though legally fraught, option of refusing treatment "even if this means they would die sooner", the AAP news agency reported.

"Clearly, many Australians are interested in having choice at the end of life," AA chief executive Glenn Rees said. He said: "Many Australians obviously want more choice in terms of advanced directives and making decisions about where they die, whether they want to have antibiotics, whether they want to be force fed, whether they want to be hydrated, within the current law."

"That's one set of options people have ... but there are also many people obviously interested in thinking about options like euthanasia." The survey was conducted on 2505 respondents and was undertaken in October last year. While it focused on dementia, respondents were asked what they would want if they were terminally ill with only a few weeks to live.

Over half (54 per cent) said they would want to write "advance care directives" while still mentally competent that would "determine the care options that were best suited to them" into the future.

Almost the same number (53 per cent) said these directives should be able to include an option to "refuse all treatment even if this meant they would die sooner", while 42 per cent would "take the option of euthanasia if available". Euthanasia is not legal in the country.

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