The arguments opposing the legalization of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide include a wide range of varying ideals. There are those who are against these practices for religious reasons, the act of suicide or the taking of a life are viewed as Mortal, unforgivable, sins. Those who have philosophical notions that conflict with the basic idea of taking a life, and even those that worry these practices could somehow lead to Nazi like genocide.
The most common arguments against the legalization of these practices are called the “Slippery Slope”, the fear that the allowance of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide would lead to an unacceptable abuse of the process and push us toward the unthinkable, involuntary euthanasia.
In order to better explain the Slippery Slope concept, all of the terms used in the argument should be clarified.
As explained by John Keown in his book, Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legalization, there is physician-assisted suicide, PAS, and voluntary active euthanasia, VAE, which “is generally understood to mean euthanasia at the request of the patient…VAE can be contrasted with ‘non-voluntary’ active euthanasia (NVAE), that is, euthanasia performed on those who do not have the mental ability to request euthanasia (such as babies or adults with advanced dementia) or those who, though competent, are not give the opportunity to consent to it.
Finally, euthanasia against the wishes of a competent patient is often referred to as ‘involuntary’ active euthanasia (IVAE). ” The basic idea in the Slippery Slope argument is that, while most don’t disagree with the use of physician assisted suicide or voluntary active euthanasia in terminal cases, in principle, there is worry that the legalization of these practices would result in a slide down the proverbial slope into non-voluntary active euthanasia and eventually involuntary active euthanasia.
Because we accept A, we will then accept B and C. There are two sides to the Slippery Slope argument, the logical and empirical. The logical argument states that once physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia are accepted, society is committed to then accepting certain related practices as well, like non-voluntary active euthanasia or involuntary active euthanasia, since there will really be no good reason not to.
Permitting the first act allows for the continued decline down the slope, which brings about the follow up argument that because the additional practices are obviously unacceptable, accepting the first practices of physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia shouldn’t have taken place to begin with. The empirical argument claims that once certain practices are accepted, its human nature to go on to accept other, more questionable practices.
This argument is often seen as the most credible and damning to the movement in favor of legalization because, as Penney Lewis states, in The Empirical Slippery Slope from Voluntary to Non-Voluntary Euthanasia, “This is simply a claim about what people will do and not a claim about what they are logically committed to do. ” Those who are against the proposed legalization of physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia worry that there will be no real way to safeguard against non-voluntary active euthanasia or involuntary active euthanasia, if the former practices are allowed.
In his book, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Natural Law Ethics Approach, Craig Paterson says, “empirical evidence from the U. S. and the Netherlands supports the contention that regulations used to draw various boundary lines in the formulation of assisted suicide/euthanasia policy suffer from vagueness or arbitrariness. ” There is no way to be certain that all of the patients being put to death meet the criteria set forth by the legal bodies that allow physician assisted suicide in Switzerland, and the American States of Oregon, Washington, and Montana or euthanasia in Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
In addition, there is no way to know that a patient labeled “terminal” is, in fact, terminal. There are many with terminal, incurable illnesses that live well beyond the weeks, months, or even years initially given to them by doctors at the time of diagnosis. All things considered, the opposition to the legalization of physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia are concerned that if those two practices become widely and unquestionably accepted, the room available o push the boundaries toward other forms of euthanasia will be limitless. If these practices become legal and the boundaries and lines drawn to prevent the abuses feared are not clear, defined, and rigorously checked and rechecked, there is no way to confirm without a shadow of a doubt, to the opposition’s satisfaction, that these procedures will be used as intended, by those with terminal illnesses, close to death, and in extreme amounts of unmanageable pain.
Until the United State is ready to accept and deal with all forms of euthanasia or can set up and implement a safe, secure, and impenetrable system supporting physician assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia, its better left outside the legal realm of possibilities.
Keown, John. “Voluntary euthanasia. ” Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 9. Print. Lewis, Penney. “The Empirical Slippery Slope from Voluntary to Non?Voluntary Euthanasia. ” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 35. 1 (2007): 197-210. Paterson, Craig. “Slippery Slopes. “Assisted suicide and euthanasia a natural law ethics approach. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2008. 176. Print.
Cite this The Slippery Slope: Opposing the Legalization of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide
The Slippery Slope: Opposing the Legalization of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide. (2017, Jan 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-slippery-slope-opposing-the-legalization-of-euthanasia-and-physician-assisted-suicide/