Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent report from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto states that they are not only ready to do euthanasia on children but their policy states that a child should be able to die by euthanasia without the consent or knowledge of the parents.

According to an article by Sharon Kirkey for Sun Media, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto published their policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide as a report in the recent Journal of Medical Ethics. According to Kirkey:

The Sick Kids’ working group says the hospital has willing doctors who could “safely and effectively” perform euthanasia for terminally ill youth 18 and older who meet the criteria as set out in federal law, and that it would be “antithetical” to its philosophy of care to have to transfer these patients to a strange and unfamiliar adult hospital. But it is a suggestion that euthanasia might one day take place without the involvement of parents that has provoked fresh controversy in the assisted-death debate.

Who does the Hospital for Sick Children believe that euthanasia can be safe and effective for?

Kirkey explains that the ethicists at the Children’s Hospital believe that there is no difference between killing someone and letting them die. Clearly there is a difference between allowing a natural death and actually causing the death of a person. By blurring clear distinctions ethicists minimize the ethical problems associated with doctors killing their patients. Kirkey reports:

The working group said it wasn’t convinced that there is a meaningful difference for the patient “between being consensually assisted in dying (in the case of MAID) and being consensually allowed to die (in the case of refusing life-sustaining interventions).”

Kirkey explains that most Canadian provinces allow mature minors to make decisions about their own care, including withdrawing or withholding life support. She explains that in Ontario a minor can provide consent for treatment or withdrawal of treatment if they understand the “reasonably foreseeable consequences” of their decision. The Sick Kids’ hospital stated that they encourage minors to involve their families in medical decisions.

Kirkey explains that the Hospitals for Sick Children is suggesting that children could decide to die by euthanasia without the consent of the parents:

The draft policy argues the same rules should apply to MAID since there is no meaningful ethical or practical distinction from the patient’s perspective between assisted dying and other procedures that result in the end of a life, such as palliative sedation (where people sleep until they die) or withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatments.

Kirkey explains that the Sick Kids Hospital paper came out just ahead of the report by The Canadian Council of Academies that will make recommendations in December concerning the extension of euthanasia to mature minors. The same group is examining the extension of euthanasia to cases of mental illness alone, as well as incompetent people who requested euthanasia within an “advance directive”.

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