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Voters support 'Dr. Death,' poll shows

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan voters oppose the Legislature's recent ban on assisted suicide and support Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who has helped 15 people end their lives since June 1990, a poll shows.

The poll by EPIC-MRA, a private political consulting firm, found that 55 percent of the 600 likely voters surveyed March 9-14 disapproved of the ban, which went into effect Feb. 25, while 38 percent approved of the law.

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A smaller majority, 51 percent, supported Kevorkian, even though he has come under criminal investigation in the death of one of his patients. Thirty-nine percent disapproved of the man called 'Doctor Death.'

The poll, released Wednesday, has a margin of error of 4 percent.

The results were similar to those in a poll conducted by the same East Lansing firm in early February -- about two weeks before Kevorkian came under investigation in the Feb. 15 assisted suicide of Hugh Gale of Roseville.

Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga is conducting an inquest into Gale's death because of questions that have been raised over whether Gale may have changed his mind in the last moments.

Ed Sarpolus, the pollster, said the numbers show continued strong support for 'personal choice' on the assisted-suicide issue.

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While the political ramifications for Gov. John Engler and lawmakers who supported the law may not be significant, Sarpolus said, the results indicate they 'are out of step with the populace.'

State Rep. Nick Ciaramitaro, D-Roseville, one of the chief backers of the ban, said polling on the issue of assisted suicide is frequently inaccurate.

Most Michigan residents, he said, don't understand that the law making assisted suicide a felony expires in two years, and that a commission created under the law will then make a recommendation on a more permanent solution.

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