Opening the doors to voluntary euthanasia could lead to non-voluntary and involuntary eu- thanasia, by giving doctors the power to decide when a patient’s life is not worth living. In the Netherlands, in 1990, around 1,000 patients were killed without their request. 1.35 Slippery slope to legalized murder: We could never truly control euthanasia (1) 1.35.1 Euthanasia supporters • Especially with regard to taking life, slippery slope arguments have long been a feature of the ethical landscape, used to question the moral permissibility of all kinds of acts. • But most often, nothing bad happens • We need the evidence that shows that horrible slope consequences are likely to occur. The mere possibility that such consequences might occur, as noted earlier, does not constitute such evidence. 1.36 Slippery slope to legalized murder: We could never truly control euthanasia (2) 1.36.1 Euthanasia critics • In a society as obsessed with the costs of health care and the principle of utility, the dangers of the slippery slope… are far from fantasy… 13
• Assisted suicide is a half-way house, a stop on the way to other forms of direct eu- thanasia, for example, for incompetent patients by advance directive or suicide in the elderly. • So, too, is voluntary euthanasia a half-way house to involuntary and nonvoluntary eu- thanasia. • If terminating life is a benefit, the reasoning goes, why should euthanasia be limited only to those who can give consent? Why need we ask for consent? 1.37 Should the governments be excluded of end-of-life decisions? (1) 1.37.1 Euthanasia supporters (1) • In an age of medical advances, death can be suspended, sometimes indefinitely. • So, for both patients and their loved ones, real decisions are demanded: – When do we stop doing all that we can do? – When do we allow nature to take its course? – When are we, through our own indecision and fears of mortality, allowing new medical methods to perversely prolong the dying rather than the living? • In principle, most dying people could be kept almost indefinitely “alive” with the use of advanced machinery. “Natural” death is already very often a matter of letting people die intentionally, just like passive euthanasia! 1.38 Should the governments be excluded of end-of-life decisions? (2) 1.38.1 Euthanasia supporters (2) • These intensely personal and socially expensive decisions should not be left to govern- ments, judges or legislators. Instead, patients should have their own say in the matter. • Governments are often driven by other agendas than the welfare of the dying patient: – Dying patients are not voters – Evil governments, like the Nazi German state, might use euthanasia as a means of fighting particular groups of dissenters – Even “good” governments might be tempted to allow or prescribe euthanasia in order to reduce the load on social insurance and the cost of medical services – Therefore, it is better to exclude governments from the discussion entirely 1.39 Should the governments be excluded of end-of-life decisions? (3) BUT: In this way, one could argue for the exclusion of the government from everything!
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