Following this week's passage of Vermont's "Death with Dignity" law, which legalized euthanasia, The Huffington Post and YouGov released the results of a poll that found that half of Americans support the legalization of assisted suicide.

The poll was conducted on May 10 and May 11 before the Vermont law was signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday. Fifty four percent of Democrats, along with 56 percent of Independents, surveyed said that assisted suicide should be legal. Only 36 percent of Republicans, however, supported legalization.

Overall, 50 percent of those surveyed said they think that assisted suicide should be legal to assist terminally ill patients compared to only 29 percent who were against it. Even poll respondents who thought assisted suicide was morally wrong said that it should be legal.

Vermont's new "Patient Choice at End of Life" measure marks the fourth of its kind in the United States. Oregon, Washington, and Montana all have similar laws, permitting doctors and pharmacists to aid in ending the lives of mentally competent, terminally ill patients with their consent.

The Vermont law in particular is very specific. It allows end-of-life procedures for patients 18 years or older who are diagnosed with an "incurable and irreversible disease" with less than six months to live. End-of-life assistance would only be given upon the request and consent of the patient. In addition, a patient must be apprised of end-of-life services like hospice care and pain control before making the decision and can withdraw the request at any time.

There is no federal law in place prohibiting assisted suicide. Even now, Congress has been very reluctant to take any action on creating federal legislation concerning assisted suicide. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Washington and New York state laws that prohibited assisted suicide, saying laws against assisted suicide do not violate liberty and equal protection guarantees under the Constitution. In 2006, the Supreme Court again had to decide on assisted suicide as the Bush administration wanted to block Oregon doctors from helping terminally ill patients end their lives. But once again, the Court ruled in favor of the state, saying that no federal law prohibits or could be interpreted to prohibit assisted suicide.

After that, Congress and the federal courts left the decision of assisted suicide up to the states to decide on their own, only commenting that laws prohibiting assisted suicide are constitutionally valid and serve important and legitimate interests.

If this new poll is any indication, however, it seems that more people would be open to the idea of legalizing assisted suicide, especially with very specific parameters governing when, why, and how the end-of-life procedures can take place, as the Vermont law spells out.