Parents and critics fear that a new law in Canada could allow doctors to euthanize children if they are battling a terminal illness. Those who do not support the proposed law believe it is inherently “reckless” and “horrible” to allow children the option to die by assisted suicide even if they are under the age of eighteen. However, top government officials in Canada believe that “mature minors” should be given the opportunity to die how they want by assisted suicide if that is what they desire following a devastating diagnosis of a terminal illness like cancer.
Canada has the world’s most permissive state-sanctioned assisted suicide program in the world. Every year about ten thousand adults turn to doctors to get help ending their lives before they are living in constant pain and turmoil. Now, sick and disabled children might soon be able to join the adults taking advantage of Canada’s assisted suicide program.
The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) issued a report that indicated that they felt that “mature minors” should be given the opportunity to access assisted suicide if their deaths are “reasonably foreseeable.” The move would allow these mature minors to access assisted suicide services without the consent of a parent.
The new findings will now go to debate in the House of Commons in Canada for the next few months. However, it is possible that the assisted suicide laws in Canada could be updated to include mature minors under the age of eighteen if the policymakers vote to make a change to the existing laws surrounding euthanasia.
Amy Hasbrouck campaigned against MAiD for an organization called Not Dead Yet. She believes that assisted suicide should not be an option for children.
“I think it’s horrible,” Hasbrouck said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, argued that Canada has been on a “slippery slope” to widespread assisted suicide ever since the country first introduced the euthanasia law in 2016.
“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,” Schadenberg said.
Mike Schouten, director of advocacy for the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), believes this policy is “reckless.”
“There would be vigorous debate, and 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,” said Schouten.
Schouten lost his son on Mary 29, 2022, at age eighteen, after a grueling battle against Ewing sarcoma. He believes that if his son had access to assisted suicide, the boy would have known that his caregivers had “given up” on him.
Do you think Canada should extend assisted suicide to children?