following Fact Sheet has been prepared by the South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia
Society (SAVES). For
further information visit their website at http://www.saves.asn.au
Voluntary Euthanasia Society
Slippery Slope Objection
7 - If voluntary euthanasia were legal it would diminish respect for human
life and lead to acceptance of non-voluntary forms of euthanasia.
significant social reform has its detractors who predict dire consequences;
yet in retrospect the reform is seen as basic human justice. The abolition
of slavery, the prohibition of child labour and equal rights for women
are obvious examples. We believe the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia
will eventually be viewed in the same way.
"slippery slope" or "thin end of the wedge" objection is a powerful one
because it plays on our instinctive fear of change, of moving into unchartered
territory, of engaging in a venture which, although desirable in itself,
is portrayed as too hard to control. The objection is developed, not by
addressing genuine problems of effective management, but by speculating
on hypothetical scenarios without adequately establishing their credibility.
The mere fact that such scenarios can be invented is held to be proof
that they must occur. When the objection is developed in this way it often
masks an objection on quite different grounds.
is no logical sequence that requires that a practice that is good in itself
must lead to something that is bad. It is necessary to examine the merits
of a given proposal, noting where the boundary lies and how it will be
maintained. The merits of the proposed reform are that it is based on
sound moral principles (see Fact Sheet 9),
it meets an urgent human need and it does no more than provide an option
in the final stages of health care in medically appropriate circumstances.
Its boundary is unambiguous. The voluntary requirement (applying to both
doctor and patient) clearly sets the limit. Far from reducing respect
for human life, respect is enhanced when the personal autonomy of the
frail and vulnerable is recognised and protected.
is not possible to base a case for non-voluntary euthanasia on the practice
of voluntary euthanasia. Our free press, legal system and democratic process
provide powerful safeguards against any attempt to blur the boundary set
by the voluntary requirement.
information contact SAVES at: http://www.saves.asn.au
contact: Hon Secretary, SAVES, PO Box 2151, Kent Town, SA 5071, Australia
- Fax + 61 8 8265 2287