The slippery slope is an argument frequently invoked in the world of bioethics. It connotes the notion that a particular course of action will lead inevitably to undesirable and unintended consequences. Saying no to the original action, even if that act is moral in itself, may, in light of the slope that looms, be the ethical thing to do.
Slippery slope arguments have been especially pervasive in discussions of euthanasia, in which physicians actively end patients’ lives, and physician-assisted dying (or physician-assisted suicide), in which physicians supply medications to patients that enable them to end their own lives.1,2 The concern, fueled by the German experience with racially motivated euthanasia in the last century, has been that approving either of these procedures for a few individuals will inevitably lead to overuse and abuse.
Lerner BH, Caplan AL. Euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands: On a Slippery Slope? JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(10):1640–1641. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4086
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