When slippery slope arguments miss the mark: a lesson from one against physician-assisted death

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Abstract

In 1989, Susan Wolf convincingly warned of a troublesome consequence that should discourage any movement in American society towards physician-assisted death—a legal backlash against the gains made for limiting life-sustaining treatment. The authors demonstrate that this dire consequence did not come to pass. As physician-assisted suicide gains a foothold in USA and elsewhere, many other slippery slope arguments are being put forward. Although many of these speculations should be taken seriously, they do not justify halting the new practice. Instead, our courts, regulatory agencies, journalists, professional organisations and researchers should carefully monitor and study it as it unfolds, allowing continuous improvement just as our society has done in implementing the practice of limiting life-sustaining treatment.

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