Euthanasia and the Slippery Slope
You Can't Kill Just One

Eric Metaxas
October 16, 2014
Reproduced with Permission

When abortion was made the law of the land, critics predicted that the number of "procedures" would multiply across America, that many would treat it as a form of birth control, and that millions of unborn babies would die.

"Nonsense," said abortion supporters. Abortion would be just for the "hard cases" so that a women would be safe from so-called "back-alley abortions." Abortion supporters accused pro-lifers of using a "slippery slope" argument. Okay - 40 years later which was right? Well, it's pretty obvious: fifty-six million unborn children have been legally aborted since Roe v. Wade in 1973, precisely what pro-lifers predicted. Sometimes the slope actually is slippery.

Now let's talk about euthanasia, also known as assisted suicide, which is making headlines here in the U. S. with the decision of a "vibrant" but terminally ill 29-year old Oregon woman to take her own life.

Will her decision be another step down the slippery slope? Let's look at what is happening in the Netherlands, which legalized euthanasia, supposedly just for the "hard cases." Critics there warned the pressure to kill would spread throughout society, that the so-called "right to die" would become a "duty to die," and that many people not thought to be at risk would face the final kindness of euthanasia.

What happened? According to the Daily Mail, the number of those euthanized in Holland has risen by 151 percent in just seven years, from just under 2,000 to nearly 5,000, with most of the "cases" involving people with cancer. Ninety-seven people, however, were helped to die by their doctors because they had dementia.

"What we are seeing in the Netherlands," says Dr. Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, "is 'incremental extension', the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included."

What Saunders calls an "incremental extension" is, I think it's fair to say, a slippery slope! The Daily Mail also reports that in 2012, 14 people with "severe psychiatric problems" died by lethal injection. Last year, the number was 42. Similar statistics are coming to light in Belgium and Switzerland. "The lessons are clear," Saunders says. "Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide, steady extension will follow as night follows day."

Saunders says assisted suicide is impossible to control. That seems petty clear. And who is next? Well, protectors of human life are worried about trends - shall I say "the slippery slope"? - in Great Britain, where it is not yet legal. But a bill is being considered this fall to make it law. Saunders, who also represents the Christian Medical Fellowship, points to a 2005 study from the House of Lords that estimated that a Dutch-type law in Britain would lead to more than 13,000 cases of euthanasia annually. And assisted suicide advocates are doing all they can to make it a reality in the country.

Exit International has actually opened a euthanasia "club" in London. At this "club," members pay to attend workshops on suicide methods and to access certain online information. Saunders says, "[These] activities present a real and present risk to vulnerable members of the British public." Indeed they do.

Of course, all this is happening because people have swallowed the false worldview that we control our lives, and that our lives only have meaning if we're happy and healthy and protected from suffering.

But there's a reason every Christian tradition condemns euthanasia and suicide. God is the author of life. Our lives - and our bodies - are not our own. We're stewards of them. And every human life taken intentionally undermines the dignity of all human life. In other words, every life discarded is one more step down the slippery slope. We see it in the Netherlands. Let's pray we don't see it here.