"To die peacefully without pain...I want the right to have that choice!" : discursive constructions of euthanasia in the Aotearoa New Zealand media : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology (with an endorsement in Health Psychology) at Massey University, (Distance), Aotearoa, New Zealand

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This paper drew on Foucauldian understandings to analyse and critique the construction of euthanasia in the mainstream Aotearoa New Zealand media and what the media portrayal of euthanasia made possible for people to think, feel and do. The analysis involved a review of 45 articles published in early 2018 and the responses to a subset of 6 articles that were made open for reader comments. Analysis identified dominant discursive formations related to a particularly Western and individualised notion of ‘autonomy’. Euthanasia was represented as ‘right’ and much needed ‘choice’ to alleviate fear of future pain and suffering and fear of dependence on others. People and institutions supporting euthanasia were portrayed as heroes and martyrs and those against as villains. A terminal condition was not a prerequisite to legitimate euthanasia in the media. Resistance to the dominant formations rested on understandings that positioned euthanasia as dangerous for society and a not a real choice when people do not have equitable access to choices in life; and unnecessary if people could access palliative healthcare. Absent was any consideration of non-Western understandings of death and dying, and religious and spiritual understandings of dying were marginalised. These conclusions suggest diverse socio-cultural understandings of euthanasia are lacking in the media, and as such, future euthanasia legislation could be harmful to non-dominant cultures and groups living in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Euthanasia, Press coverage, Social aspects, New Zealand