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Should euthanasia be legal?
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Slippery slope argument

Legalizing voluntary euthanasia would lead to a creeping acceptance of non-voluntary euthanasia in cases where a patient cannot make a request for the termination of their life .
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One of the most controversial issues surrounding legal euthanasia is safeguarding against possible abuse of the practice. Opponents of legal euthanasia claim that it's impossible to create a set of guidelines which couldn't be manipulated in a way that would let doctors perform involuntary euthanasia. Furthermore, opponents of the legal euthanasia argue that by accepting premises of voluntary euthanasia we assert that there are lives not 'worth' living. After we accept this, we cannot stop a slide towards acceptance of involuntary euthanasia since the premises apply as for voluntary euthanasia.

The Argument

As evidenced by the Netherlands' euthanasia guidelines, it is impossible to create guidelines which wouldn't be vague and open to interpretation by physicians and/or patients. The concept of "unbearable pain" as mentioned in Dutch guidelines cannot be legally defined, so it's impossible to create an objective and precise list of conditions that have to be fulfilled for voluntary euthanasia to occur. A slow process of widening the scope of the legal euthanasia is ultimately inevitable since the underlying assumption - that there are objective circumstances that make ending of a one's life preferable and ethically more justified than prolonging it - can be used to argue that involuntary euthanasia is ethically permissible.

Counter arguments

There is no proof that legalizing euthanasia leads to an acceptance of a non-voluntary euthanasia. The guidelines set by the Dutch government work as intended and there is no definitive proof that the scope of the practice was widened. Active, involuntary euthanasia remains illegal in all jurisdictions, even in those where active voluntary euthanasia is legalized.


[P1] There has to be a set of clear, precise rules to limit the scope of the legal euthanasia so it will not be abused. [P2] Creating such set of rules is impossible, since there is no objective benchmark for a sensation of pain. [P3] If we accept that there are situations where is preferable to end a life instead of prolonging it, the slide towards the acceptance of involuntary euthanasia is inevitable.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] No legalization of involuntary euthanasia has ever occurred and there is no evidence to suggest that legalizing voluntary euthanasia would lead to this.


This page was last edited on Monday, 3 Feb 2020 at 14:02 UTC

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