In New Zealand, aiding and abetting a person to commit suicide or euthanasia even with consent is unlawful. The introduction of a third Bill on assisted dying to the House of Representatives following a high-profile court case afforded an opportunity for examining how assisted dying was discussed in the public sphere. In this article, we report on a discourse analysis of a selection of social media to illustrate the ways in which citizens participate in the voluntary euthanasia debate. The volume of social media posts that made up our data set suggests that the legalisation of assisted dying is a highly topical and deeply salient societal issue. Social media postings represent the voices of ordinary citizens who may not participate in formal public consultation processes. Based on our analysis, the assignment of binary conclusions about public opinion is simplistic and fails to adequately represent the intricacies of public debate. Contributors’ posts reveal deeply held sociocultural values, as well as tensions about the relationship between citizens and the apparatus of government.
- medical anthropology
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Contributors CJ and JY contributed to the research concept and design, data analysis, interpretation and preparation of the manuscript. ILS contributed to the research design, data collection, analysis, interpretation and preparation of the manuscript. RE contributed to the research design, data analysis, interpretation and preparation of the manuscript.
Funding This study was funded by the Health Research South, University of Otago (Super Summer Studentship Award) and the Health Research Council of New Zealand (Ethics Summer Scholarship).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement We are unable to share data at this time because we are continuing to analyse it for publications.