A Canadian parliamentary committee is facing backlash over their proposal to expand the country’s assisted suicide program to allow sick and disabled minors to die by assisted suicide without parental consent. Those who oppose the recommendation have slammed it as “reckless” and “horrible.”
Each year in Canada, about 10,000 adults end their lives by state-sanctioned euthanasia, typically done via lethal injection.
In a recently-released report, the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) recommends that “mature minors” whose deaths are “reasonably foreseeable” have access to assisted suicide.
Although witnesses warned the committee that children are ill-equipped to make such a serious decision on their own, members of the committee ultimately decided that children with terminal illnesses should be able to choose to hasten their death.
Ministers are also working on a plan to extend MAiD to the mentally ill.
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The Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg, warned that Canada is on a “slippery slope” to widespread assisted suicide.
“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,” said Schadenberg.
“I think it’s horrible,” said Amy Hasbrouck, a member of the group Not Dead Yet that campaigns against MAiD.
“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,” Hasbrouck added.
Mike Schouten, the director of advocacy for the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), is fighting hard against the committee’s recommendation.
Schouten’s son, Markus, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2021 and died just 15 months later at the age of 18 after many operations, chemotherapy, and 25 rounds of chemotherapy.
He claims that an assisted suicide law for children would have sent his son the message that caregivers had given up on him.
“By giving some minors the right to request, you put all minors and their families in a position where they are obliged to consider,” Schouten said.