Should doctors be allowed to end a child’s life without parental consent? According to doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, the answer is yes.
Last month, the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article backed by the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics, which according to the authors, is intended to function “as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of pediatric MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying).”
While the concept of physician-assisted suicide for children is controversial in and of itself, perhaps more alarming is the notion that patients under the age of 18 should be able to request and receive it without their parents’ knowledge.
As reported by Michael Swan at Crux, the article outlines the process by which such an event would take place and does “not mention conversation with family or parents about how the child dies until after the death occurs…” This would apply to any capable minor who “explicitly indicates that they do not want their family members involved in their decision-making.”
Justification for this comes in the name of patient confidentiality. The idea here is if a child does not want their parents to know, patient confidentiality requires the doctors not inform them until after the procedure has been carried out.
So while Canadian law suggests a 12-year-old does not have the maturity to drive a car, drink alcohol, or join the military, they are apparently mature enough to make the decision to end their own life, with no parental input needed.
“The paper comes as a report by an expert panel struck by the Liberals to explore extending euthanasia to mature minors is due to be presented to parliament in December,” writes Sharon Kirkey for the West Elgin Chronicle.
Will it make a difference in parliament’s ruling? We will find out in two months.