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Rhetoric: Death with Dignity

  • By: Gordon Alley-Young
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Death with dignity (DWD) rhetoric argues that the terminally ill have the right to end their own lives and suffering with a doctor's help. Opponents argue that DWD rhetoric devalues the lives of the sick, disabled, and elderly; violates physicians' ethical responsibilities; and will lead to the overuse of physician-assisted death (PAD). DWD supporters, often reject the term suicide, because the patients' terminal illness is what makes death an inevitability, and the term euthanasia, because it places the choice of ending life in the hands of another; challengers of DWD rhetoric often see DWD, suicide, and euthanasia as interchangeable. DWD rhetoric and opposition rhetoric are expressed in terms of human rights, legal, medical-ethical, and/or religious perspectives.

The rhetoric of death with dignity, also referred to as ...

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