Canada has just introduced a new law that legalizes euthanasia for parents who want their doctors to kill their sick, disabled or dying children.Euthanasia in Canada has been legal now for just over a year, but pediatricians have reported an “increasing demand” for euthanizing children and infants, something that wasn’t previously allowed.Canadian law allowed for the “assisted medical suicide” for terminally ill or suffering adults who could legally “volunteer” to end their own life.This law wasn’t extended to children as it’s felt that a minor wouldn’t be able to consent to their own death.
Now, the new legislation will pass the responsibility of consensual death over to the parents, allowing them to decide whether to euthanize their child.The change was prompted by a survey by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) that showed an “overwhelming demand” from parents for euthanizing children.Wesley Smith, an American anti-euthanasia activist, said the shift in legislation proves the morally slippery slope that a nation slides down when it decides that “killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering.”Writing in the National Review, he said: “Once euthanasia consciousness is unleashed, it never stops expanding,””I guess Robert Latimer–a Canadian farmer who murdered his daughter because she had cerebral palsy–was a visionary.”
According to LSN, The CPS surveyed its members in light of the possibility Canada will expand euthanasia to children.Indeed, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government had already written that possibility into the law it passed in June 2016. Bill C-14 permits voluntary euthanasia for individuals of at least 18 years of age assessed to be suffering intolerably from a grievous and irremediable medical condition, and with natural death reasonably foreseeable.
But the Commons Justice Committee added an amendment to the bill directing the federal government to review expanding euthanasia on three further grounds: for children, or “mature” minors; solely for mental illness; and allowing advance directives in the case of those with degenerative diseases such as dementia. The Liberals requested the Council of Canadian Academics to review the amendments before they were quickly ushered through ParliamentThe CPS surveyed 1050 pediatricians on their experiences with “medical aid in dying” or MAID, and released a report at the end of October.Forty-five doctors reported receiving explicit requests from parents to euthanize 91 children, it said.
More than half of these requests were for “neonates or infants under a year old.”A further 118 pediatricians had “exploratory” discussions about euthanasia with parents of 419 children.As for requests from the children themselves, 35 paediatricians reported discussing euthanasia with 60 minors.Nine reported receiving direct requests for euthanasia from 17 minors. While “such consultations may be rare, minors in Canada are contemplating MAID-related concepts and approaching health care providers with MAID-related questions,” noted the CPS survey. “Given the evolving legislative landscape, it is reasonable to anticipate that such questions will increase in the near future.” The CPS also conducted an attitude survey on euthanasia, with 574 of a possible 1,979 members, or 29 percent, responding.Of these, 46 percent supported euthanizing mature minors who have “progressive or terminal illness or intractable pain.” Thirty-three percent opposed euthanizing mature minors for any reason.
Mature minors are children who are allegedly capable of understanding the nature and consequences of treatment, and so judged competent to request death by lethal injection.The CPS study suggested non-voluntary euthanasia for non-competent dying “and/or severely disabled” children is acceptable.
Canada’s federal law and Quebec’s law previously prohibited involuntary euthanasia for anyone, it said, adding: “However, given the human rights framework advanced in Carter v. Canada, the parents of a dying and/or severely disabled child who is deemed to be suffering may, in the near future, be looking to the courts to support a right to end their child’s life. Decision-making for treatment of never-competent children is based on the ‘best interest standard’: choosing among options that reasonable persons, acting in good faith on another’s behalf, would consider acceptable in similar circumstances.” “All this is very problematic,” says Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
Euthanasia lobbyists shift the argument for legalizing the killing of children by lethal injection from the autonomy of the individual to arguing: “why do you want to allow them to suffer?”Parents and guardians in Canada couldn’t authorize no-treatment or the withdrawal of treatment for non-competent minors, Schadenberg added, saying: “So the idea is, well, this isn’t fair, the law has an inequality because you’re allowing adults who are capable of requesting this, but not children or mature minors.””If you had a child with a significant disability, then the question at birth would be, do you want that child to receive treatment or not, and you would have the right to say yes or no,””So the argument is well, because we already have that, therefore, what’s the difference between that and euthanasia?” Schadenberg echoed Smith’s warning that with euthanasia allowed, the grounds for legally killing people keep expanding, as has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions.The Netherlands adopted the Groningen Protocol in 2004, he pointed out. It gives doctors impunity to lethally inject disabled infants, such as those with spinal Bifida or hydrocephalus.The CPS study “shows us that the parents were the ones to ask about euthanasia. Rarely did the mature minor or child consider euthanasia,” Schadenberg said. “The concept of euthanasia for children should be simply rejected based on the fact that children cannot consent.”
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