Why medical assistance in dying for minors is a problem | Opinion

Abel Pelletier was only 4 years old when his mother, Karie-Lyn Pelletier, began asking the Canadian Parliament to authorize a doctor to commit suicide in a medically assisted death.

Abel was severely disabled due to a rare disease called Mednik syndrome. The disease is incurable, although medications can manage some aspects of the disease. Yet this case is not what most people think of when they think of euthanasia or assisted suicide. They’re thinking of terminally ill elderly people, not 4-year-olds.

But this is where Canada notoriously broad laws allowing physician-assisted suicide have come to an end.

Despite controversy over other cases – including Alan Nicholswho had only one health condition listed on his euthanasia request, hearing loss – the laws are set for expansion Next year.

As early as March, Canada could authorize “mature minors” die by euthanasia or assisted suicide without parental consent. “Mature minors” is a loosely defined concept with no specific age; children deemed capable of making their own medical decisions could seek medically assisted death.

To put this into context, before children in Canada can drive vehicles, they may be allowed to consent to doctors taking their lives. Equally appalling is the number of adults speaking out in favor of expanding the law to include mature minors as well as infants and the mentally ill.

Dying with Dignity Canada wrote in favor of extending eligibility to minors, proposing 12 as the minimum age required.

Dr. Louis Roy, of the College of Physicians of Quebec, recently recommended at a parliamentary assembly that babies up to 1 year old be candidates for assisted suicide if they present “severe deformities or very serious and severe syndromes”. . While Roy clarified that it should be for babies with hopeless diagnoses or extreme suffering, the bioethicist and physician Felipe E. Vizcarrondo stated that neonatal euthanasia cannot be “ethically acceptable” and “there is a lot of room for parental, medical, personal, social and economic biases”.

In reality, 64% of Canadians support access to medical assistance in dying for “mature minors”.

Kill the vulnerable

Medical assistance in dying for minors is not an entirely new phenomenon. Netherlands allowed for 12 year olds with parental consent and 16 year olds without. In addition, euthanasia for babies 12 months and under is legal in Netherlands. Its neighbor to the south, Belgiumhas no age limit, but requires parental consent for children under 18 and requires that the child has a terminal illness or is near death.

Presented as health care and cloaked in seemingly compassionate language, medically assisted death is portrayed by its proponents as a way to preserve human dignity, but it appears to be a way to kill the vulnerable. UN officials have previously written that Canada’s euthanasia laws appear to violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and discriminate against the poor, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Equally worrying when it comes to children and young adults, whose minds have not yet fully developedis that some may view physician-assisted suicide as an escape from potentially improving circumstances.

write for Common sense, Rupa Subramanya told the story of Kiano Vafaeian, a 23-year-old Canadian who was approved for medical assistance in dying with depression and diabetes as eligibility requirements. The procedure was scheduled for September 22.

On September 7, Vafaeian’s mother, Marguerite Marsille, found an email the doctor wrote to his son explaining the process. After Marsilla was able to draw media attention to her son’s case, the doctor refused to perform the procedure. She was able to temporarily stop her son’s death (even though he was over 18) by bringing attention to herself. But if Canada expands its laws regarding medical assistance in dying, parents of minors may not be able to intervene.

Proponents argue for medical assistance in dying on the basis of human rights. Dr. Derryck Smith, a psychiatrist at the University of British Columbia, has said“MAID aims to alleviate suffering, respect human dignity, and recognize the inherent right of individuals to make decisions affecting their health and even death.”

“Perverse Deterrence”

Good people can disagree about whether it is morally acceptable for human beings to choose when they die. But there is no doubt that physician-assisted suicide provides what one Toronto doctor called a “perverse deterrentfor Canada’s publicly funded health care system to choose death over expensive treatment and support. Canada already talks macabre about medical assistance in dying as a policy that can save millions of dollars.

A Canadian patient with a degenerative brain disorder, Roger Foley, said the director of ethics spoke about the cost of keeping him in the hospital. When Foley asked about long-term care, the director said, “My role was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying.” another doctor reportedly called a mother “selfish” when she refused medical assistance in dying for her daughter.

Canadians’ attitudes toward medical assistance in dying appear to have been largely influenced by a criminal case that occurred nearly two decades ago. Before assisted suicide was legal, Robert Latimer killed his daughter due to her serious medical problems, including cerebral palsy, compressed organs, chronic pain, and the inability to speak or feed herself. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 10 years. A survey conducted shortly after his conviction determined that 73% of Canadians believed Latimer should have received a more lenient sentence and 41% of Canadians believed that “mercy killings” should be considered legal.

Last year, over 10,000 Canadians chose to end their lives with medical assistance, a number that climbs every year. Abel Pelletier, the 4-year-old whose mother requested medical assistance in dying, was not among them; he deceased earlier this year. But Canada’s grim death toll from MAID may well include children in 2023 — to its shame.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

About Norman Griggs

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