February 2, 2018
There are many on the left who constantly argue that America needs to be more like the Scandinavian socialist paradises of Europe, and one of the things they most admire is government health care that allows assisted suicide and “death with dignity” for the terminally ill. They poo-poo objections that it’s a slippery slope to let the government determine who can live or die because when the budget gets tight (as it inevitably will with government health care), decisions about who lives or dies might start trending more toward who’s costing more money to keep alive than who’s really suffering.
(Of course, liberals often argue that “slippery slope” arguments are never valid, even as they fight tooth-and-nail against even the most reasonable restrictions on late-term abortion for fear they’ll lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned).
But the latest case of assisted suicide to hit the news should give pause to anyone who wants to import the Scandinavian medical morality to the US like an IKEA sofa. Friday in the Netherlands, doctors helped a 29-year-old woman commit suicide who had no physical illness at all. She did suffer from lifelong psychological problems, and she said the demons in her head made every second “torture.” She argued, "I think that after such a rotten life I am entitled to a dignified death…People who have a serious illness get a chance for a worthy ending, so why is it so difficult for people who are psychologically out?"
Not to diminish her suffering, for which we all should feel sympathy, but the compulsion to commit suicide is by definition a psychological disorder. Should the government help everyone who suffers from it kill themselves instead of treating the disorder?
For the government to okay helping her kill herself because of psychological issues should send a chill through any reasonable observer. But if that doesn’t chill you, try this: In the Netherlands, approximately 9 percent of patients who ask to be killed because they have psychological problems already have their request granted. What made this one newsworthy is that the applicant was unusually young. But now that they’ve crossed that barrier, don’t expect it to remain unusual much longer.
American-based ethicists are pointing out the way that assisted suicide laws, enacted with the noblest of intentions, tend to start expanding the definition of what’s allowed (for instance, “progressives” in the Netherlands are also arguing for helping people over 75 kill themselves, even if they’re completely healthy). This is an issue that’s already taking root in the US: in the first year of California’s assisted suicide law, 111 people were helped to die. Want to lay odds that the number will only grow larger and the reasons looser?
At the link are more details and responses from medical ethicists, one of whom described the latest incident in the Netherlands perfectly. He said some may call slippery slope arguments a fallacy, but this case shows that "the slope is covered in a sheet of ice."