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The debate about euthanasia and its echo on end-of-life practices. A comparative view: France – Germany

Author(s): Horn R

Journal: Pratiques et Organisation des Soins
ISSN 1952-9201

Volume: 41;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 323;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Euthanasia | end-of-life | right to die | suicide | assisted | extraordinary treatment | personal autonomy | limitation of therapeutics possibilities | limitation of medical intervention | France | Germany

This article wants to show how the moral question of euthanasia emerges and is dealt with in society. It takes France and Germany as case studies of this; two countries in which euthanasia is prohibited and which have similar legislation on the issue. We suppose that each society has its own specificities in terms of practical, social and political norms that affect the ways in which they deal with these issues. This article thus seeks to understand how requests for the right to die emerge in society, through both the debate and the practices that elucidate it. That is why we did documentary research(analysis of daily press pack since 1970, professional and associative literature and legal texts) and ethnographic fieldwork in three French and two German hospitals (participative observations within palliative care teams between 2005 and 2007 combined with interviews done with 21 French and 20 German professionals). It does so however without attempting to solve the moral question of euthanasia. In spite of the differences observed between these two countries, the central issue at stake in their respective debates is the question of the individual’s autonomy to choose the conditions in which he or she wishes to die. Prat Organ Soins. 2010;41(4):323-330
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