It is not just that we know from the legalisation of abortion how over time ‘two independent doctors’ have been increasingly prepared to rubber-stamp the procedure, unwilling to examine in depth (or, indeed, at all) whether the woman has, for example, come under pressure from a boyfriend to terminate the pregnancy.
It is also that in the case of euthanasia, the great majority of doctors are highly unwilling accomplices. One wrote to me: ‘As one who spends every working day caring for the terminally ill, I am acutely aware of the damage such a change would cause to vulnerable patients.’
But we don’t need a crystal ball to guess at the consequences. Last week, the Mail published comments by a member of one of the Dutch regional committees invigilating euthanasia in that country, where it was legalised in 2002.
Theo Boer now says he had been ‘terribly wrong’ in supporting that legislation, not least because the numbers of those being given lethal injections had soared beyond what he had anticipated.
The House of Lords should not be surprised by this: some years ago it took evidence from Holland and was told by a Dutch GP, Dr van den Muijsenbergh: ‘I see a growing anxiety among patients, not just the terminally ill, that they think it is not decent not to ask for euthanasia sometimes, because they feel they are such a burden.’
The undeniably well-meaning Lord Falconer insists the legislation he proposes is modelled on the more limited measure passed in the U.S. state of Oregon, rather than the Dutch law.
So, here’s what happened in Oregon a few years back: two cancer sufferers, Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, who were reliant on the social health programme Medicaid for their care, were told the state would not fund any more treatment — but would pay for the drugs to end their lives there and then.
No, there’s no value to the slippery slope argument at all.