The Euthanasia Slippery Slope Is Real

John Keown

Victoria’s law permitting physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and voluntary euthanasia (VE) came into force in June last year. Other states, particularly Western Australia, may soon follow suit.

All Australians, whether legislators or voters, would do well to reflect on the warning of former Prime Minister Paul Keating, when the bill was being debated in 2017, that VE is a threshold moment for Australia, and a threshold the country should not cross. He cautioned that, once termination of life is allowed, pressure will mount for further liberalisation on the ground that the law discriminates against those denied PAS and VE. “The experience of overseas jurisdictions,” he added, “suggests the pressures for further liberalisation are irresistible.”

His article provoked a critical response from ABC/RMIT “fact checkers,” who concluded that in most jurisdictions where the law had been relaxed “little has changed regarding what practices are allowed or who can access assisted dying.”

They were mistaken. My book Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy, provides extensive evidence from abroad confirming slippery slope concerns.

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