Euthanasia and ‘slippery slope’?

Sir, – As a disability rights advocate, I wish to respond to Noel Byrne's suggestion (Letters, March 16th) that the recent "slippery slope" argument concerning euthanasia is "an appeal to emotion and with no real empirical backup".

This is an unfair characterisation of the argument, and I am acutely aware that around the world, for people with disabilities in particular, the slippery slope argument is anything but “hypothetical and speculative”.

Choices do not exist in a vacuum and allowing certain categories of people to be helped to end their lives will lead to other people feeling the pressure to die in this way too.

Belgium has experienced a dramatic increase in euthanasia deaths – with a 1,030 per cent rise between 2002 (235) and 2019 (2,656).


Assisted suicide has been legal in Oregon since October 1997. There has now been an increase in the number of people who opt to die in this way annually, from 16 people in the first year of operation to 245 people in 2020.

The Netherlands formalised its euthanasia practice in 2002, and has now expanded it to include the euthanasia of patients with advanced dementia. Psychiatric illness is also a grounds for euthanasia there.

Canada has also experienced a dramatic rise in euthanasia deaths, resulting in 5,631 such deaths in 2019, an increase of 455 per cent in just four years.

Despite the best efforts of disability rights activists there, just last week the Canadian parliament approved a Bill to expand the grounds for euthanasia, including on the grounds of mental illness alone.

I could go on, but I believe that the facts speak for themselves. – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.