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Monday, December 05, 2022

Euthanasia and the Slippery Slope

Euthanasia projects of the Colorado Party and a sector of the Broad Front have been integrated into the lower house, which has fueled the will of legislators from different parties. Everything indicates that Uruguay will have a euthanasia and assisted suicide law.

There is one point that is mentioned without much explanation of the meaning: the slippery slope.

The situation in the Netherlands, which has been facing the practice of euthanasia for 20 years, is well known. Several authors (David Volokh, Ranon Gillon) have studied slippery slopes in that country as well as Belgium, Luxembourg and other countries that are joining this new entrant.

This phenomenon includes the fact that as the process becomes “natural” and the population (in Uruguay) accepts or tolerates it, society’s morals change and the voices of those defending life are silenced.
Gradually, the grounds of euthanasia are widening, even for diseases that are not incurable. In addition, there is a risk that the procedure will be performed without the patient’s consent, as in the case of people with late-onset Alzheimer’s (unable to make decisions) in the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada.

In the Netherlands, restrictions for selecting candidates for euthanasia began two decades ago, similar to the current bill in our country (terminal diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, etc.). However, over the years it was enabled for patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, mental diseases; Later (2005) this was expanded to include children over 12 years of age with terminal illnesses and currently includes children aged 1 to 11 years. Parents can request euthanasia for children under 1 year of age based on the Groningen Protocol which was written in 2005 by Drs. Verhagen and Sawyer.

In Belgium, which competes with the Netherlands, which enforces the most severe euthanasia laws, in 2014 an amendment was made to the 2002 euthanasia law and legalized euthanasia for minors without age limits. The same is happening in Luxembourg.

I wonder: will the same thing happen here in Uruguay? Are we different from the Dutch and the Belgians in this respect?

In short, it is essential that universal access to palliative care is already effectively established if euthanasia legislation is implemented. It would be a brutal violation of human rights (moral-moral I leave to every reader) if the victim did not have this option before being offered euthanasia.

This “slippery slope” phenomenon is believed to be a reality in developed countries.

We cannot forget that 100 years ago these countries faced the horrific experience of governance with complete disregard for life, which led to brutal human rights violations.

Who guarantees us that we, who do not suffer these monstrous violations of human dignity, do not descend this dangerous slope that we still do not know where it may lead us?

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