Within developed nations, there is increasing public debate about and apparent endorsement of the appropriateness of euthanasia as an autonomous choice to die in the face of intolerable suffering. Surveys report socio-demographic differences in rates of acceptance of euthanasia, but there is little in-depth analysis of how euthanasia is understood and positioned within the social and moral lives of individuals, particularly those who might be considered suitable candidates--for example, terminally-ill cancer patients. During discussions with 28 such patients in Australia regarding medical decisions at the end of life, euthanasia was raised by 13 patients, with the others specifically asked about it. Twenty-four patients spoke positively of euthanasia, 19 of these voicing some concerns. None identified euthanasia as a currently favoured option. Four were completely against it. Endorsement for euthanasia was in the context of a hypothetical future or for a hypothetical other person, or temporally associated with acute pain. Arguments supporting euthanasia framed the issue as a matter of freedom of choice, as preserving dignity in death, and as curbing intolerable pain and suffering, both of the patient and of those around them. A common analogy featured was that of euthanising a dog. These arguments were typically presented as self-evident justification for euthanasia, construed as an appropriate choice to die, with opposers positioned as morally inferior or ignorant. The difficulties of ensuring 'choice' and the moral connotations of 'choosing to die,' however, worked to problematise the appropriateness of euthanising specific individuals. We recommend further empirical investigation of the moral and social meanings associated with euthanasia.Australia Euthanasia Discourse Cancer Patients
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