What is the cultural value of dying in an era of assisted dying?

Published on: Author: Naomi Richards Leave a comment

Dr Naomi Richards and Dr Marian Krawczyk

In the summer of 2018, Dr Marian Krawczyk and I co-authored an article about how the various western cultural ‘scripts’ which give meaning to dying might be influenced when assisted dying is made lawful and the very end stages of dying becomes, in essence, an ‘optional’ part of the lifecourse. Our thinking was very much informed by feedback I received from academics and clinicians at McGill University, Montreal, Canada (many thanks to Dr Mary Ellen Macdonald for arranging this visit) and from colleagues in our own department (School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow). Our aim with this article is to pose thought-provoking questions and promote debate – in writing it we called it a ‘thought experiment’. Our article isn’t about the values of dying people or of people who request an assisted death. It is about the cultural value which is (or is not) attributed to the dying phase of life more broadly in western contexts, and why and in what ways this is changing.

The full (online first) reference to the article is: Richards N. and Krawczyk M. 2019. What is the cultural value of dying in an era of assisted dying? Medical Humanities Published Online First: 26 July 2019. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2018-011621  

You can find it here: https://mh.bmj.com/content/early/2019/07/25/medhum-2018-011621

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