Death and the body beautiful: Aesthetics and embodiment in press portrayals of requested death in Australia on the edge of the 21st century

McInerney, Fran
December 2007
Health Sociology Review;Dec2007, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p384
Academic Journal
This paper develops discourse analysis of Australian press representations of dying during the operation of the Northern Territory of Australia's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (McInerney 2006). Operating in tandem, the discourses of aesthetics and embodiment constructed contemporary dying as an intolerable corporeal state. The body in disarray is attractive to media imperatives of drama and crisis, and dominated press reports during the analysed period. Such images functioned as absolute justification for a medicallyinduced requested death. Modern equating of physical integrity and personal dignity supports such responses to dying. The requested death interventions of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide were depicted as halting the physical deteriorations associated with terminal illness and thereby redeeming the dying person, by providing them with the opportunity to reclaim the social status lost via their progressive corporeal decline.


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