A report by the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD) was tabled in the House of Commons on February 15, part of which called for a drastic expansion of euthanasia in Canada.
The report includes the recommendation to include “mature minors,” or children deemed ‘capable’ of understanding the implications of euthanasia.
Recommendation 19 in this report details how the Canadian give should establish a requirement for consultation with parents or guardians in the assessment process for euthanasia.
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 euthanasia policy developed by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto for “mature minors” was initially published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in September, 2018. According to the ethical standards laid out by the Children’s Hospital’s report, there isn’t any difference between assisted suicide and letting someone die.
All around Canadian provinces “mature minors” are already permitted to make most decisions about their own care without adult consent. These decisions include possibly withdrawing or withholding life support.
The Hospitals for Sick Children draft policy language permits children who are deemed competent or “mature minors” the final decision to choose death by euthanasia without the consent of their parents. The draft policy argues that since these same rules apply to most other medical decisions Medical Assistance in Dying shouldn’t be excluded.
The Canadian government is considering child euthanasia and euthanasia of incompetent persons who requested death in an advanced directive. Many who object to this proposal warn that granting this policy will open the door to further expansion of the practice.
The report also calls for the removal of the requirement for a waiting period between the request for MAID and the provision of the procedure.
The report by the Special Joint Committee on AMAD also calls for the expansion of euthanasia to include individuals with mental illness. According to the report, mental illness should not be a barrier to accessing medical assistance in dying (MAID), as long as the individual meets the criteria for eligibility and is capable of providing informed consent.
As if that wasn’t barbaric enough, the report recommends that the government should provide clear guidance on the eligibility criteria for MAID, including the criteria for determining capacity and the assessment process which will ultimately enable people to attempt to adapt whatever behavior/language needed to qualify.
Finally, the report calls for the government to provide funding and support for palliative care and end-of-life services. This would include support for families and caregivers, as well as access to hospice and home care services.
The report has yet again stirred up a heated debate around the world, with many opposing the expansion of euthanasia to include children, individuals with mental illness, and those who are not terminally ill.
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