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2021 Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Politics and Gender

Medical Assistance in Dying: Value-Based Issue Framing through Narratives

Public Policy
Social Policy
Policy Change
Nathalie Burlone
University of Ottawa
Nathalie Burlone
University of Ottawa

This research aims at explaining public action towards singular and highly emotional issues. Through the study of narratives, our paper will explore opposing or complementary representations of the recent and controversial inclusion of medical assistance in dying along palliative care services in Canada. Specifically focused on the Québec End-of-Life Care Act implemented in December 2015, our paper studies rhetorical representations of life and death as framings generated prior to the implementation of this important policy change. Our analysis is led in line with Mucciaroni’s proposition of understanding morality policy as one (moral) of two (rational-instrumental) framing strategies. Using NVivo, values and rational-instrumental arguments expressed in Canadian newspaper articles (Recurring Columns and Op Eds) published between 2005 and 2015 and in general consultations and public hearings held between 2009 and 2011 are labelled in order to reconstruct different framings. As such, our paper relates to one of the workshop questions on the extent identity-based issues are the new morality issues of the 21st century. This paper is the second part of a recent analysis conducted on public opinion articles (Letters to the Editor) published during the same period and from which four different narratives were reconstructed. These narratives illustrated how the moral frame was not the prerogative of the opponents to the bill, as both sides used it to discuss the issue, nor was it the only frame they use to critique the adoption and implementation of the law. Results from the second wave of analysis will be compared with the first one and presented in light of the literature on morality policy and the Canadian and international context. Implications for research, policy analysis and qualitative methodology will also be discussed.
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