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The Kuhse-Singer Euthanasia Survey: Why it Fails to Undermine the Slippery Slope Argument — Comparing Apples and Apples

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A survey published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1997 showed that the incidence of non-voluntary euthanasia in Australia was higher than in the Netherlands. Euthanasia is illegal in Australia, while it is openly practiced in the Netherlands. It has been suggested that the results of the survey undermine the slippery slope argument against legalising euthanasia. This is wrong. Although at the time of the survey, euthanasia was formally prohibited by the law in Australia, the medical and legal culture was such that doctors could practice euthanasia with impunity — in certain circumstances euthanasia by doctors was effectively condoned. This is in fact supported by the findings of the survey. The survey suggests that there were approximately 6,700 cases of euthanasia in Australia in the year from July 1994 to June 1995 — not one of which was prosecuted, let alone resulted in a conviction. Ultimately the survey merely shows that in a climate where voluntary euthanasia is tolerated, wide scale abuses (in the form of non-voluntary euthanasia) occur. Paradoxically the results of the survey give further support to the slippery slope argument.

Affiliations: 1: School of Law, Deakin University


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