Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Community and Language Studies.

Faculty

Community Services, Education and Social Sciences.

First Advisor

Dr. Alan Tapper

Abstract

This is a cross-national qualitative study with the purpose of obtaining perspectives held by people with quadriplegia and leading figures in disability movements in the Netherlands and Australia on the issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EPAS). A disability voice is not prominent in public debate on EPAS in Australia or the Netherlands, even though people with disabilities are often thought to be vulnerable in relation to EPAS policies. Disability perspectives are potentially valuable in illuminating issues in relation to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, because issues of dependence, independence, and individual autonomy play important roles in relation to both EPAS and to living with disability. The study's methodology uses a phenomenological approach and incorporates aspects of heuristics and grounded theory. Its conceptual framework incorporates MacIntyre's (1999) theory of acknowledged dependency and vulnerability; Habermas' (1989) theory of knowledge; and Festinger's (1959) theory of cognitive dissonance. The main sample of twenty people with quadriplegia (the grassroots sample) was interviewed in the Netherlands and in Australia.