A Comparative Study on Permissiveness Toward Euthanasia. Religiosity, Slippery Slope, Autonomy, and Death with Dignity
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SourcePublic Opinion Quarterly, 74, 1, (2010), pp. 109-139
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
Public Opinion Quarterly
SubjectInequality, cohesion and modernization; Ongelijkheid, cohesie en modernisering
This study explores explanations for the approval of euthanasia by assessing differences among individuals and countries, using four main arguments used by opponents and proponents in the public debate over euthanasia. We performed multilevel analysis on data from thirty-three countries, obtained from the European Values Study 1999/2000 and the World Values Survey 2000; we enriched these data with country-specific information. First, our results supported the hypothesis based on the religion argument: religious people and people living in a religious context are more strongly opposed to euthanasia. In addition, Protestants and people living in Protestant countries have more favorable attitudes toward euthanasia than do Catholics and people living in Catholic countries. Second, we found support for the hypothesis derived from the slippery slope argument: fear that euthanasia will be abused resulted in people from vulnerable groups and people living in countries with low-responsive health care systems being more opposed to euthanasia. Third, as the autonomy-hypothesis predicted, highly educated people and people who highly value autonomy as well as people living in a country with a stronger than average attachment to autonomy show a more favorable attitude toward euthanasia. Fourth, while the death with dignity argument predicts that people who witness unbearable suffering in their personal or national environment are more favorable toward euthanasia, our results show only weak support. Furthermore, cross-level interaction tests showed that national contexts are, to some extent, able to decrease the differences between groups in society in terms of their response to euthanasia.
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