Media used wrong polls in Schiavo case

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's now been shown that the polls that were widely reported in the mainstream media leading up to Terri Schiavo's death were biased polls with "leading" questions. The latest unbiased polling from Zogby shows the nation clearly supporting Terri and her parents and wanting to protect the lives of other disabled patients. By a whopping 79 percent to 9 percent, Americans responding to the Zogby poll said that disabled patients like Terri Schiavo should not have food and water taken away.

The questions posed by the ABC News poll, for example, portrayed her as having "no consciousness" and being on "life support," rather than an awake, responsive patient with a feeding tube, which she was.

The Zogby poll found that, if a person becomes incapacitated and has not expressed their preference for medical treatment, as in Terri's case, 43 percent say "the law presume that the person wants to live, even if the person is receiving food and water through a tube," while just 30 percent disagree.

In addition, the poll also lent support to members of Congress who passed legislation seeking to prevent Terri's starvation to death and help her parents take their lawsuit to federal courts.

Respondents were asked, "When there is conflicting evidence on whether or not a patient would want to be on a feeding tube, should elected officials order that a feeding tube be removed or should they order that it remain in place?" In response, 42 percent said it should be ordered to remain in place and only 18 percent said the feeding tube should be removed.

And finally, when asked directly about Terri's case and told the her estranged husband Michael "has had a girlfriend for 10 years and has two children with her," 56 percent of Americans believed guardianship should have been turned over to Terri's parents while only 37 percent disagreed.

It's the media's job to report the news in an unbiased way. Please, do your job, and correct the incorrect perceptions that Alaskans have been given about the facts in Terri Schiavo's case. All of our neighbors and friends supported saving Terri Schiavo's life. Due to the efforts of Zogby, we now know that the majority of Americans agreed with us.

Karl and Betty Bengtson


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