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A Rebuttal to the Slippery Slope Argument

Adapted from VES –The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of England and WalesFrom the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of England and Wales 

The slippery slope argument states that once we have made voluntary euthanasia legal, society will soon allow involuntary euthanasia. This is based on the idea that if we change the law to allow a person to help somebody to die, we will not be able to control it. This is misleading and inaccurate – voluntary euthanasia is based on the right to choose for yourself. It is totally different from murder. There is no evidence to suggest that strictly controlled voluntary euthanasia would inevitably lead to the killing of the sick or elderly against their will. As Ronald Dworkin, professor of Law at Oxford and New York University, said in 1994: 

“Of course doctors know the moral difference between helping people who beg to die and killing those who want to live. If anything, ignoring the pain of terminally ill patients pleading for death rather than trying to help them seems more likely to chill a doctor’s human instincts.” 

People who do not agree with voluntary euthanasia often refer to the 1967 Abortion Act. They argue that the numbers of abortions which now take place every year show that the safeguards set out in the Abortion Act have been ignored. They argue that this example should be taken as a warning of what could happen if helping people who are terminally ill to die is made legal. They believe that the law would not be able to control a huge amount of euthanasia cases, many of which would be involuntary. However, abortion is a very different issue to assisted dying. It is also important to remember that people choose to have abortions, they are not forced on people. There is no evidence to suggest that assisted dying will be forced on anyone either. 

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