Scripting Death: Stories of Assisted Dying in America (California Series in Public Anthropology #50) (Hardcover)
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How the legalization of assisted dying is changing our lives.
Over the past five years, medical aid-in-dying (also known as assisted suicide) has expanded rapidly in the United States and is now legally available to one in five Americans. This growing social and political movement heralds the possibility of a new era of choice in dying. Yet very little is publicly known about how medical aid-in-dying laws affect ordinary citizens once they are put into practice. Sociological studies of new health policies have repeatedly demonstrated that the realities often fall short of advocacy visions, raising questions about how much choice and control aid-in-dying actually affords.
Scripting Death chronicles two years of ethnographic research documenting the implementation of Vermont’s 2013 Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act. Author Mara Buchbinder weaves together stories collected from patients, caregivers, health care providers, activists, and legislators to illustrate how they navigate aid-in-dying as a new medical frontier in the aftermath of legalization. Scripting Death explains how medical aid-in-dying works, what motivates people to pursue it, and ultimately, why upholding the “right to die” is very different from ensuring access to this life-ending procedure. This unprecedented, in-depth account uses the case of assisted death as an entry point into ongoing cultural conversations about the changing landscape of death and dying in the United States.
About the Author
Mara Buchbinder is Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is author of All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain and coauthor of Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening.
"A beautifully written, thought-provoking ethnography that traces how patients, family caregivers, health care providers, activists, and legislators navigate this new world in which MAID is a legal option. . . . This book is essential reading for courses on death and dying, health care, and bioethics and will be eye-opening for those caring for terminally ill loved ones or grappling with their own life-or-death decisions. . . . Highly recommended."
“Buchbinder offers a compelling introduction to the complexity and inconsistency of ethical stances around life and death decision-making. In addition, she calls attention to the danger of reducing the forms of personhood and sociality produced through impending death to individual autonomy. And she shows the heart-wrenching consequences of unequal access to information and care in the United States. Scripting Death is a wonderful introduction to a pressing social issue.”
— Medical Anthropology Quarterly
“?"Buchbinder’s work is the latest of several highly accessible health related ethnographies that represent a resurgence of anthropology in which real people talk rather than ‘discourse,’ questions are asked rather than ‘interrogated,’ and the term ‘reinscribe’ does not appear. A welcome development."
— The Hastings Center Report