The possibility of Canadian law permitting doctors to euthanize children who are struggling with terminal illnesses has become a hot topic of debate. The proposed change is causing concern among parents and critics alike.
It was inherently “reckless” and “horrible” to permit children, even those below eighteen, the option of assisted suicide, as those opposed to the proposal argued.
On the other hand, high-ranking Canadian officials maintain that “mature minors” should have the right to choose assisted suicide in the face of a devastating terminal illness diagnosis, such as cancer.
Canada currently holds the distinction of having the most permissive state-sanctioned assisted suicide program in the world. Approximately ten thousand adults seek medical assistance each year to end their lives before experiencing unbearable pain and turmoil. This new proposal suggests that sick and disabled children may soon join the adults benefiting from Canada’s assisted suicide program.
The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) released a report suggesting that “mature minors” should have access to assisted suicide if their deaths are “reasonably foreseeable.” This change would enable mature minors to seek assisted suicide services without parental consent.
Over the next few months, the proposal will be debated in the Canadian House of Commons. If policymakers decide to amend existing laws surrounding euthanasia, it could extend assisted suicide to include mature minors under eighteen years old.
Amy Hasbrouck, a campaigner against MAiD from the organization Not Dead Yet, firmly opposes assisted suicide for children. “I think it’s horrible, teenagers are not in a good position to judge whether to commit suicide or not. Any teenagers with a disability, who’s constantly told their life is useless and pitiful, will be depressed, and of course, they’re going to want to die,” She argued.
The country has been on a “slippery slope” towards widespread assisted suicide, Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, claimed. Since Canada first introduced its euthanasia law in 2016. He stated, “We said we were going to have safeguards and guardrails, but the next government can simply open it up further by making a decision — and that’s exactly what’s happening.”
Mike Schouten, director of advocacy for the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), called the policy “reckless.”
Schouten, who lost his eighteen-year-old son to Ewing sarcoma on May 29, 2022, believes that if his son had access to assisted suicide, it would have signified that his caregivers had “given up” on him. Saying, “hopefully, people would make the right decisions, although we don’t have much faith in some of those institutions at the moment, considering our current government,” he expressed hope for a vigorous debate on the issue.
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