Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Beth Rauhaus

Abstract

Though tragic, the case of Florida’s Terri Schiavo offers an unprecedented case study. The instance's unique circumstances provide one with a valuable and illustrative example of political theory and the complexities of public policy formation. The Terri Schiavo case gripped the attention of the public on a national level. According to Terence Smith, “76 percent of the public polled (said) that they (were) following (The Terri Schiavo case) either very closely or somewhat closely” (Cosgrove-Mather, 2005). However, despite national media attention and the infamous case’s lengthy court proceedings, the Terri Schiavo saga failed to make any legitimate national policy changes. The following research will discuss how public policy’s Process Model, despite the case of Terri Schiavo and subsequent national concern, as well as “media malpractice,” contributed to the stagnation of euthanasia legislation on a federal, state, and local level, and analyze what progress, if any, the mass media has made in their coverage of Schiavo nearly two decades after their initial coverage began. Tough Terri Schiavo’s case can only be applied to the first half of the utilized theoretical model, the insight this application provides is certainly valuable nonetheless.

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