Canadian panel pushes assisted suicide for minors without parental consent

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Canada’s Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) recommended assisted suicide for minors without parental consent in mid-February.

A 138-page Canadian Parliament document was shared online called, “Medical Assistance In Dying In Canada: Choices or Canadians.” One part of the report addressed assisted suicide options for “mature” minors in Canada. They considered two tracks, one for whom there is “reasonably foreseeable” death, the second track for those for whom “mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition.”

The government document explained the debate among government witnesses about expanding assisted suicide to those who are not yet legal adults.

“For MAID and mature minors, the committee heard a mix of views about whether MAID should be available to those under the age of 18. Many witnesses believed that age alone does not determine whether someone is capable of consenting to MAID,” the document’s authors wrote. “At the same time, a cautious approach was recommended, especially since there is little evidence from youth themselves on this topic.”

While the paper ultimately did not recommend MAID for children who are mentally ill, “The committee agrees with the many witnesses who opined that MAID for mature minors should be limited to track one [reasonably foreseeable natural death] at this stage, especially given the lack of youth perspectives on the topic.”

Among a list of recommendations was a suggestion that “That the Government of Canada restrict MAID for mature minors to those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.”

One critical aspect was that while the government committee supported the concept of consulting parents about administering euthanasia, children would have the final say: “The committee agrees with those witnesses who supported a requirement for parental consultation, but not consent, in the context of MAID for mature minors.”

One recommendation the committee gave was to formalize this idea into law.

“That the Government of Canada establish a requirement that, where appropriate, the parents or guardians of a mature minor be consulted in the course of the assessment process for MAID, but that the will of a minor who is found to have the requisite decision-making capacity ultimately take priority,” the committee advised.

The Daily Mail, after noting children would be “joining the roughly 10,000 adults who end their lives each year by state-sanctioned euthanasia in Canada, quoted multiple critics of the proposal.

“I think it’s horrible,” Amy Hasbrouck, of the anti-MAID group, Not Dead Yet, told the outlet. “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.”

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