Determining the end of life: a qualitative study of religion and euthanasia among older Dutch adults
In Dutch discourses euthanasia has consecutively been viewed as murder, as mercy offered by medical doctors and as a self-chosen right for older people. This seems to reflect decreasing religious authority over death. Therefore, 26 interviews with Dutch adults aged 79-100 were carried out to evaluate the relationship between religion and attitudes towards euthanasia. Qualitative analysis indicates three groups of participants. Participants in the refraining group, wishing not to let the moment
... to let the moment of their death be determined by euthanasia, predominantly believed both in God and an afterlife, and had most preference for a religious funeral. Participants in the depending group, wishing to ground euthanasia decisions in medical criteria, were least religious, which illustrates the co-occurrence of medicalisation and secularisation of death. Participants in the self-determining group, asserting that older adults should be allowed to determine themselves if and when they wish to receive euthanasia, were almost as religious as the refraining group, although they believed less in an afterlife. Their less traditional religiosity suggests that the late modern decline of traditional religious frameworks affords both self-determination concerning euthanasia and individual interpretations of religiosity. Moreover, our data suggest a connection between a persistent death wish in older adults and a perceived social death.