Assisted dying could one day be an option for kids

Should 'capable young people' be allowed to keep requests secret from their parents?

In the May issue of Paediatrics and Child Health, pediatricians raised the issue of a possible future where “mature minors” may be eligible for MAID (medical assistance in dying). For adults it’s a reality, but kids?

It seemed like a far-fetched idea at the time. That was until this month, when a report came out about Sick Kids Hospital, whose draft policy on MAID also suggests this as a possibility.

As the paper’s abstract says, “While MAID is currently available to capable patients in Canada who are 18 years or older … we write our policy with an eye to the near future when capable young people may gain access to MAID.”

Medically assisted suicide for “capable” minors (someone under 18, according to the government) — children. The paper, in the Journal for Medical Ethics, is “intended as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of paediatric MAID.”

The most alarming issue with this report, whose contents were reported by Postmedia, is in the form of a question: “Are there situations in which MAID requests and administration would be kept secret from parents and other family members, for example, if a capable patient were to indicate that they do not want family members involved?”

Secret. In other words, what if a “capable” child wanted medically assisted suicide but not to have their family notified?

Children aren’t legally allowed to smoke, drink or vote. They can’t join the military or be tried as adults in court because THEY’RE CHILDREN. Their brains are still developing, no matter how “mature” they are. That is precisely why parents must always be part of the discussion.

It is truly heartbreaking to see (or simply imagine) children and youth suffering from illness and pain so terrible they wish to die. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a parent to have such a discussion with a doctor.

Now think how terrible it would be if such a talk took place without the parents being required.

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Posted: Oct 16 2018 12:09 pm
Filed under: Opinion Science & Health