Negotiating euthanasia: civil society contesting “the completed life”
Autonomy and independence have become crucial elements of end-of-life decision making. Opinions on the latter are, however, strongly contested in public discourses. This contribution analyses arguments in favour of and against a Dutch civil society initiative which promotes the extension of the legislation on euthanasia. The authors investigate Dutch newspapers associated with three groups: religious, liberal and humanist perspectives, and do so by utilising quantitative and qualitative elements from a discourse-analytical perspective, raising the following questions: Which stances can be identified? How do different parties position themselves with regard to a ‘completed life’ and a ‘good death’? To what extent do these positions create demarcations between ‘us’ and ‘them’? The authors show that the debate developed along the lines of three key topoi: the topos of autonomy, the topos of human worth and the topos of embeddedness. The authors thereby identify how the different discursive positions define different visions of dying as ‘legitimate’ and as a proper end to a completed life.