Slippery Slope: n. A tricky precarious situation, especially one that leads gradually but inexorably to disaster.
Once it was common to hear pro-euthanasia commentators dismiss, out-of-hand, any possibility that euthanasia & assisted suicide law could not be contained. It's less common these days - most likely because The Dutch experiment continues to prove the hypothesis.
News reports in the past few days confirm the euthanasia death of a Dutch woman with advanced senile dementia. Some report it as 'a first', but that is simply not the case. As Wesley Smith reports, Dutch doctors have been euthanizing patients without consent since the legal framework was established (and probably even earlier). In Belgium it is estimated that 47% of cases are not reported. It doesn't take much thought to consider that many of these unreported cases will fall outside the guidelines; lack of consent being one obvious breach and inability to consent (evidenced in dementia cases) is a sub-set.
What is new, in this case, is that a committee of doctors met and decided to kill the 64 year old woman. Out in the open, these doctors, we can assume, saw that there is strength in numbers; that the already impotent regulators would not dare move against such a cabal.
Note well: The Dutch law has not changed. No, but as we've seen before, it is the doctors themselves who are redefining the boundaries by their own choice. Earlier this year they (The Dutch Physicians Association - KNMG), without reference to anyone else - and certainly not the parliament nor the legal profession - redefined the term 'unbearable suffering' to include loneliness and finances; 'tired of living' is also an acceptable reason to want to die.
In 2005, The Groningen University Hospital developed a protocol for infanticide that now see up to 20 newborns (usually with spina bifida) euthanized each year. The Dutch parliament had promised to respond to the protocol but, to my knowledge, to date, has not sought to codify nor limit the practice.
As Dr. Erik Leipoldt reports, Already euthanasia for people with a mental illness is openly discussed by the Dutch as a 'right' that they should have.
This self-evident slippery slope is aided and abetted by the reality that no meaningful penalties are applied to doctors who do not follow the Remmelink (parliament) guidelines. An occasional 'please explain' or licence suspension amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. The KNMG's efforts to redefine the law will simply confirm in the minds of doctors the reality that they are only accountable to themselves.