Ethics. Research. Community.

Euthanasia on trial: examining public attitudes toward non-physician-assisted death.

The Journal of social issues. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
This study investigated the influence of various contextual effects on the decisions of subjects evaluating a case of nonphysician-assisted suicide. Subjects viewed a videotaped deposition of an individual emotionally or nonemotionally describing how he assisted in the death of his terminally ill wife by disconnecting her respirator or shooting her in the head. The deposition was followed by jury instructions that outlined the duties of the subject and, in some cases, was followed by a nullification instruction that informed the subjects of their right to ignore the law in this case if they felt it would culminate in an unfair verdict. After viewing the videotape, subjects were asked to rate the guilt of the individual as well as their confidence in this rating. Results indicate that the means of death and the type of instruction significantly affect guilt ratings. The implications of these findings are discussed.
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