J. Gay Williams makes arguments in his article “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia” to the contradiction of the practice to human nature, miscarriage of the procedure due to misdiagnosis and the slippery slope argument. I have always been against euthanasia primarily because, like capital punishment, there is always a chance that something could change: new information could become available, there may have been an error in the diagnosis, or technology may be developed that could change a hopeless situation to a hopeful situation.
The argument I had not considered before reading this article is the slippery slope argument Williams makes. Often those who have made the decision for euthanasia are too weak from illness to perform the action for themselves. The subject then designate someone empowering them with the ability to make the decision on when to end the subject’s life. The author states then that it is a short step from voluntary euthanasia to directed euthanasia given to a patient with who has given no authorization. This is a slippery slope none of us want to be standing on.
Going from acting in my own best interest to acting in her own best interest is not that big a journey. How many times have we said or heard “he’s not able to make decisions for himself anymore” or “that’s what she would have wanted”? Although we may have the best of intentions we often miss the mark when acting in someone else’s own best interest.
Who is to say when someone else is suffering too much? Is the suffering too much for the family to bear? Is the “hopeless” condition of the subject taking medical attention that could be “better spent” on other patients?
Who makes that decision? In the case of a long time and progressive disease or ailment the subject may designate someone to make the decision of when the suffering has become too much. What about when the suffering is due to an accident? There is no warning. John is a marathon runner who loves the outdoors. He is independent and strong willed. We watched a movie together when the star was in a coma for a prolonged time and he said, “I wouldn’t want to live like that.” No John is in a coma and the doctors have said that if he should come out of the coma he will never walk again and he will need assistance for the rest of his life. Can we assume that if John had the time to plan it he would have planned for euthanasia at this point?
And those who we deem mentally or emotionally unable to make decisions… or children… or those with no family… who should make the decision for them?