Reading Log–Article 11

‘‘Standing in Terri Schiavo’s Shoes: The Role of Genre in End-of-Life Decision Making”

The Schuster article looked in depth at the role that rhetoric played in the euthanasia debate, with a focus on the controversial Terri Shiavo case. The idea of a “good death”, one where the patient can die comfortably without prolonged amounts of medical interventions. Strong rhetoric such as those phrases worked to persuade the public to a certain side, despite opponents of euthanasia insisting that quality of life could not be determined on such narrow terms, and should instead be left up to the more complex individuals. Medical proxies, life support, and the legal implications associated with physician-assisted suicide were also examined in depth. Data for these studies was found by looking at 75 end-of-life court cases, coded these cases to state wards in Minnesota, and then examined them to better understand the genre. The article concludes by saying that the guardian’s ability to use genre in considering these decisions helps them to work in the best interest of the client. They ultimately define quality of life as being able to continue with desired activities and interact socially with the world despite their limitations.

Having just read about Brittany Maynard, a woman who has chosen physician-assisted suicide after learning of her inoperable tumor, I appreciated that the article is so very relevant in the world right now. The use of rhetoric is so important when looking at hot-button social issues like euthanasia, and public opinion can be so heavily swayed by the speaker’s use of persuasive speech. Rather than form unilateral opinions about the debate as a whole, I thought it was good that the writers foresaw the importance of looking at cases on an individual level to see if PAS is the right choice for them and their loved ones. Seeing elements of their life more as subgenres is an excellent approach to dealing with an emotionally-charged issue, and I agreed with Schuster that it will help to make wiser decision that would be in each person’s best interest.

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