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J Med Ethics. 1998 Oct;24(5):341-4.

Pulling up the runaway: the effect of new evidence on euthanasia's slippery slope.

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  • 1Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.


The slippery slope argument has been the mainstay of many of those opposed to the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. In this paper I re-examine the slippery slope in the light of two recent studies that examined the prevalence of medical decisions concerning the end of life in the Netherlands and in Australia. I argue that these two studies have robbed the slippery slope of the source of its power--its intuitive obviousness. Finally I propose that, contrary to the warnings of the slippery slope, the available evidence suggests that the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide might actually decrease the prevalence of non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.

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