The death of Loving: maternal identity as moral constraint in a narrative testimonial advocating physician assisted suicide.

Abstract:

:This article considers the narrative testimonial as a rhetorical form in the service of public judgment, with particular attention to the witness's credibility and communicative competence. The author argues that a narrator and witness, as a participant-observer of the events recounted, must generate a story that does not compromise her credibility as a moral agent within the text, and that the capacity to do so is largely a function of communicative competence. Carol Loving's recent book concerning her son's physician assisted suicide is critically assessed to illustrate the primary argument. The critique attempts to show that she neither creates a substantial argument for physician assisted suicide, nor does she warrant her role as a spokesperson for the issue because her narrative violates formative features of maternal identity. Loving's narrative also unintentionally reveals motivational clusters that conflict with and compromise the primary argument, thereby subverting the process of persuasive appeal. Whereas mothers are often mediators for their children in health matters ranging from colds, to psychiatric issues, to matters of death and dying, the failure of Carol Loving in this text, as well as its analysis, should be instructive and cautionary to health professionals who rely on maternal discourse in handling patients, as well as audiences who rely on narrative testimonials as content in their deliberation of public issues.

journal_name

Health Commun

journal_title

Health communication

authors

Kenny RW

doi

10.1207/S15327027HC1402_5

keywords:

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2002-01-01 00:00:00

pages

243-70

issue

2

eissn

1041-0236

issn

1532-7027

journal_volume

14

pub_type

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