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Embracing slippery slope on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia could have significant unintended consequences
  1. Zeljka Buturovic
  1. Institute for Social Sciences, Belgrade 11000, Serbia
  1. Correspondence to Zeljka Buturovic, Institute for Social Sciences, Belgrade 11000, Serbia; zbuturovic{at}


In a recent article Joshua James Hatherley argues that, if physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is morally permissible for patients suffering from somatic illnesses, it should be permissible for psychiatric patients as well. He argues that psychiatric disorders do not necessarily impair decision-making ability, that they are not necessarily treatable and that legalising PAS for psychiatric patients would not diminish research and therapeutic interest in psychiatric treatments or impair their recovery through loss of hope. However, by erasing distinction between somatic and psychiatric disorders on those grounds, he also erases distinction between healthy adults and patients (whether somatic or psychiatric) essentially implying that PAS should be available to all, for all reasons or, ultimately no reason. Furthermore, as psychiatric patients are much more likely to be a source of usable organs for transplantation, their broad inclusion would strengthen the link between PAS/euthanasia and organ donation, potentially undermining both as well as diminishing already declining general trust in medical authorities and professionals and public health authorities and activists.

  • suicide/assisted suicide
  • euthanasia
  • transplantation
  • public health ethics
  • dead donor rule

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  • Contributors The article is solely my own work.

  • Funding This study was funded by Ministarstvo Prosvete, Nauke i Tehnološkog Razvoja (, grant no: 47010.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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